Conestoga knocks off Phoenixville in District 1-AAA second round

PHOENIXVILLE — Cecilia Knaub of Phoenixville and Paige Kozlowski of Conestoga embraced shortly after the completion of the two schools’ District 1-AAA second-round girls soccer playoff game Saturday afternoon at Washington Field.

The two high school foes also happen to be teammates during the club soccer season with the Penn Fusion team.

But as far as scholastic competition, the two senior standouts are headed in opposite directions. Kozlowski and the 10th-seeded Pioneers are moving on to the quarterfinal round following a 2-1 victory over Phoenixville. Knaub and the rest of the seventh-seeded Phantoms saw their noteworthy campaign come to a sudden halt with a 15-5-1 overall record.

Knaub scored Phoenixville’s lone goal in the contest. It came at the 22nd-minute mark of the first half that tied the game at 1-1.

Anna Tellefson and Katelyn Perz scored for the Central League’s Pioneers (14-5-1), who advanced to Tuesday’s quarterfinal round at No. 2 Central Bucks East. The top five finishers in District 1 will advance to the PIAA State Tournament.

“It was exciting,’ said Kozlowski, a senior midfield/defender who played mainly left back against the Phantoms.

Tellefson, a senior forward, put the Pioneers ahead in the 10th minute with a shot from the right side in front of the net. After Knaub knotted the score off a corner kick with a shot in front to the lower left corner of the net, Perz, a sophomore forward, scored in the 29th minute to create the 2-1 halftime score and final margin.

“We knew defensively they were stingy,’ said second-year Phoenixville head coach Tim Raub. “We knew we were not going to get many opportunities. We were hoping to take care of the ones we did have. But unfortunately for us, they did and we didn’t. Conestoga was on today and we struggled.

“But I couldn’t be prouder of our girls. We came back in the second half. We did everything but put the ball in the back of the net. Conestoga is well-coached (by Meghan Brogan) and well-organized. We had a good game plan, but we had a 2-1 loss. I told the girls to be disappointed in the loss but not in the effort we put forward today. We are a building program and we finished 15-5-1.’

Phoenixville won its first-round game, 5-2, over Upper Dublin Thursday night with Lauren Benner scoring four goals. The one district victory in the Class AAA playoffs equals the best the Phantoms have ever done. The only other time was once during the career of Ashley Habbel, who is currently Raub’s assistant coach. The overall record is still Phoenixville’s best soccer mark in many years.

On Saturday, Benner and the rest of the Phantoms were kept off the scoreboard by a swarming Conestoga defense, powered by Kozlowski, freshman Hannah Morgan, senior Maggie Stetson and junior Megan Woods.

“We definitely came into this game knowing she is their top goal scorer,’ said Kozlowski. “We had to stop her. I think we definitely accomplished that.’

The Pioneers shadowed Benner when she had the ball and concentrated on denying her the ball the remainder of the afternoon. Conestoga’s midfielders and forwards helped take care of that task with freshman Caitlyn Ellerbeck and juniors Alice Reagan and Sammi Silverrstein in the middle, joining other leaders like senior midfield/forward Grace Edgarton and freshman forward Rachel DiRico up front.

“Our midfield stayed together and kept shape,’ said Kozlowski. “The midfielders stopped that. The midfield was really key in preventing that.’

Conestoga’s senior keeper, Aly Maneri, made three saves. Phoenixville junior keeper Lainey Michaud had four saves. The Pioneers held the edge in corner kicks, 3-2.


Knaub will head to Penn State University following her Phoenixville career. … Benner, who is still assessing her college options, finished her brilliant career with 67 goals, just four short of Habbel’s school record of 71 goals. Habbel went on to a standout career at the University of Pittsburgh. … Phantoms graduate six seniors in all with the others being Katie Fritsche, Lahela Worley, Steph Schellberg and Kristen Bonshock. … Sophomore Julia Brown had several scoring chances for the Phantoms. … With seven minutes left, Raub tried an extra push on offense by moving sophomore midfielder Kaitlyn Casiano up to the forward line and sending sophomore Sophia Kopko from defense to midfield.

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