Growney paves way as Conestoga rolls into quarters

TREDYFFRIN — Scottie Rose Growney doesn’t like to think about trading places with opponents of the nationally-ranked Conestoga girls lacrosse team.

Those shoes are less than comfortable.

“I’d be so afraid,’ Growney says. “I would be thinking, ‘ Oh my gosh, she’s good, she’s good, she’s good…’ We’re really strong. It’s really fun to play with these girls.’

Growney and her attacking counterparts put their versatility on full display Thursday, carving up an overmatched Central Bucks South squad with a clinic of incisive cuts and crisp passes on the way to a 15-6 victory in a District 1 second-round tilt. The North Carolina-bound sophomore registered four goals and three assists alongside five markers from Sondra Dickey as the top-seeded Pioneers (19-1) stretched their winning streak to 19 games and booked a spot in Saturday’s quarterfinals, where they will face No. 9 Springfield (Delco) at West Chester East.

“We have so many threats on the field, and they use each other,’ Conestoga coach Amy Orcutt said. “I think that’s what makes us so deadly — there’s so many girls who can put the ball in the back of the net.’

Five of them did on a sun-soaked afternoon at Teamer Field, including Loyola (MD) commit Liz Scott, who collected three goals and an assist, and senior co-captain Maggie Stetson (Drexel), who scored two goals and assisted on two others. Conestoga, ranked 16th in the country by Nike/Lacrosse Magazine, did most of its damage with precise cutting and passing, a deadly formula for a unit teeming with multi-faceted athletes.

“We have a lot of girls who pass really well,’ said Dickey, a junior committed to Lehigh. “Obviously the cut doesn’t matter unless you have a good pass. I trust everyone out there to make the right pass, and hopefully they trust me to catch it.’

After a pair of quick-twitch saves by Titans (14-5) goalie Erin Putnam, Growney opened the scoring with a rocket to the top shelf after a pretty spin to her left. Forty-five seconds later, Liz Scott hit a cutting Stetson before scoring in transition for a 3-0 advantage. After Sarah Poli answered a tally by Conestoga’s Paige Loose, Growney had a hand in every bit of a three-goal run to close out the first half, hitting Liz Scott off a curl and finding Dickey wide open just outside the crease with a perfect centering pass. A free-position strike extended the advantage to 7-1, and intermission did little to stop the Pioneers’ momentum.

Liz Scott found herself all alone after curling off a tight screen, polishing off her hat-trick just 24 seconds into the second half. It took Growney 28 seconds to complete hers, racing in from midfield after a re-start to make it 9-1. Another eight-meter conversion came four minutes later for the future Tar Heel, who set up a brief running clock with a feed to Dickey as Conestoga stretched the bulge to 11-1 with an even 19 minutes to play.

Ten of the Pioneers’ 13 goals in the run of play were assisted, two of them by junior Rilee Scott, who put forth an impressive two-way performance with four draw controls and two caused turnovers.

“We really focused on working it around and looking for the open girl,’ Growney said. “We were playing selfless, and that’s what’s so great about this team: we share the ball, and we all want everybody to score. That’s why we’ve been doing so well.’

Still, it wasn’t all sunshine and roses for Orcutt’s group. The Titans, fresh off their first postseason victory in program history, held a 13-10 advantage off the draw and forced Laney Stenson to make seven second-half saves. Central Bucks South scored three unanswered goals after going down 11-1 and looked fairly comfortable in the game’s final 20 minutes.

“I never felt like this game was in the bag at all,’ Orcutt said. “They’re a great team and we allowed them to have (14) shots in the second half, but (Stenson) did a great job.’

“We were pushing the fast break a lot, and that’s what allowed us to keep control of the game. We didn’t do a good job controlling the draw, and we’re usually on top of that, so we need to do a better job getting possession.’

But behind Dickey, who netted the team’s final three goals, the Pioneers were threatened no further in reaching the district quarters for the fourth straight season. The future Mountain Hawk also played a leading role in locking down Sarah Poli, the Titans’ junior captain who went off for nine goals and two assists in an 18-8 first-round rout of Abington. Poli did score off her own rebound midway through the first half, but was otherwise unable to find room to operate against Conestoga’s zone.

The Pioneers have advanced to the PIAA playoffs two straight years, each time by way of the perilous district playbacks. Dickey and company would prefer to avoid that route this time — especially as a heavy favorite to claim the District 1 crown for the first time since 2006.

“We don’t take any game lately,’ Dickey said. “We do the same things for every single game, and we just try to play our best. We all have ultimate goals we want to accomplish.’


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