Conestoga advances on penalty kick in OT

Tredyffrin — Two hours… two overtime periods… one goal.

That’s what it took for ninth-seeded Conestoga to defeat No. 25 West Chester East 1-0, in the second round of the District 1 Class AAA Boys Soccer playoffs. The win pushes the Pioneers into the Tuesday’s quarterfinals versus top-seeded Unionville.

As the second overtime was drawing to a close, it looked as if the game would be decided by penalty kicks. It was, but the game did not need to go past the second period of extra play to see it.

On a controversial hand-ball against the Vikings, the Pioneers were awarded a penalty kick.

Stepping up to the ball was senior captain Jack Braun. Silence fell upon the crowd at Teamer Field. Braun fired a low kick into the left corner that just made it past goalie Christopher Gleason’s extended body. Cheers and celebrations erupted around the Conestoga bench.

“We’ve been practicing PKs all season. We know they are essential come playoff time,’ Braun said. “I just had to zone everything out, and focus on putting the ball in the back of the net.’

As special as Braun’s goal was, he may never of had the chance to win the game if it wasn’t for his goalie Will Smith’s 12 save performance.

“I can’t take all the credit for the shutout. My defense played excellent in front of me,’ Smith said. “I thought about how this could be the last game our seniors ever play in, I didn’t want that to happen. So I just did whatever I could to help our team move on.’

It certainly was an emotional and thrilling victory; one that was all too familiar for Conestoga’s head coach David Zimmerman.

“We’ve been doing this all season. We have played a bunch of overtime games, and won a lot of one-goal games. Our regular season schedule had a lot of tough opponents on it, and I think it helped our team in a game like this,’ Zimmerman said.

While there was much jubilation for the home team and their fans, there were tears and shocked faces on the Vikings side. East is a veteran team comprised of 18 seniors. They gave a valiant effort and came close to moving on in the playoffs.

“They left their heart and soul on the field today,’ first-year head coach Dave Flamer said. “For the seniors, this is it. This is probably the worst way to lose. But they gave it their all. Moving forward some of our younger guys got to see what the hard work is all about, and we go from there.’

One of the best chances of the contest came way back in the first half.

Conestoga’s Chris Chappelear took a throw-in that somehow managed to bounce through all the traffic in front of the net and get past Gleason. To the dislike of the home fans, the referees ruled that no player touched the ball, deeming the goal invalid.

With much back and forth play in the second half, both teams gained energy and rhythm. Each had chances to break the scoreless tie, but neither was successful.


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