Tredyffrin >> Conestoga kept the pedal to the metal for all 80 minutes of its 4-0 win against 15th seed Great Valley in the second round of the PIAA District 1 AAAA girls’ soccer tournament Thursday.
“We’ve had a lot of games this season where we’ve had the early lead, but we haven’t always put together a full 80 minutes, so sometimes the other team came right back into it and then we’ve ended up playing a tough game,” Conestoga head coach Ben Wilson said, “Tonight, now that it’s playoffs, I knew we had to put together a full 80 minutes. When we went ahead 2-0, I said, ‘Let’s keep it going, try to make it 3-0,’ and when it was 3-0 I told them, ‘Let’s go for that fourth goal,’ and keep scoring until there’s no chance Great Valley can make a comeback on us.
“Tonight, I thought we did a good job of limiting Great Valley’s possessions, because I know they’re a possession-based team, and I was really proud of the team’s effort all around.”
With the win, No. 2 seed Conestoga will host 7th seed Pennsbury in the district quarterfinals Saturday (weather permitting). The Pioneers (16-1-2), champions of the Central League, haven’t lost since the first week of the season.
While high-scoring Caitlin Donovan and Nia Scott each tallied two goals at Teamer Field Thursday, the Pioneers’ defense did a solid job keeping Great Valley in check.
Conestoga senior defender and co-captain Jordan Roe said, “I think we did a good job of holding up their top [scorers], getting any balls that came to us and hitting them back up to the top. If we had to clear it, we cleared it, but we would always look for options if we had them, make it work and find girls and play it up.
“We really came out tonight bringing a lot of energy, and a power that was really needed for Districts, and worked well as a team. It was really a team effort tonight.”
The Conestoga squad gave its game MVP award to sophomore midfielder Annabel Schwartz.
“Wherever the ball was, she got there, to slow up attacks, to intercept balls, to get a foot in to keep Great Valley from getting possession, which allowed us to win the ball, counter and get the ball upfield,” said Wilson. “[Goalie] Sarah Neslel handled the crosses well, as well as any ball that got behind our defense. I really didn’t have a nervous moment about whether we were going to give up a goal or not.”
Conestoga didn’t waste much time grabbing the lead, as Donovan scored, with an assist from Scott less than three minutes into the contest.
Late in the first half, Scott scored twice (both goals assisted by Donovan) to give Conestoga a 3-0 halftime lead. Scott now has 15 goals and 12 assists.
Wilson said, “Our wings attacked quickly, our midfielders played a lot of through balls well, combined with Nia and Caitlin up the middle. We wanted to make a statement tonight that we are the team to be reckoned with in Districts and States.”
With 30:35 left, Conestoga’s Emily Wertz served a corner kick on target for Donovan to head in for a 4-0 lead. Donovan now has 25 goals for the season.
Patriot head coach Jen Michewicz said, “Going into the game, we knew it was going to be difficult. Our goal was to give them a [tough] game; and we focused on our style of play, possessing the ball, and at times I thought we had nice possessions. I thought Conestoga did a nice job in the final third, and they had an intensity and urgency that we lacked a little bit when we got into our final third.
“I thought [seniors] Sarah Merriwether and Jenny Osinski did a good job of leading the defense. [Sophomore] Mary Deitch in the midfield had a tough matchup against Caitlin Donovan, but after that early goal, I thought we did an OK job of [defensing Donovan] after that. [Junior forward] Emma Gray was receiving the ball and trying to create some scoring opportunities for us.”
Conestoga 4, Great Valley 0
Great Valley 0 0 – 0
Conestoga 3 1 – 4
Goals: Donovan (CO) 2, Scott (CO) 2.
Goalie saves: Nselel (CO) 1, Birchier (GV) 5.
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