Conestoga rolls into District 1 semifinals

West Goshen — For the second time in two weeks, Conestoga had its way with Springfield (Delco). Saturday afternoon’s District 1 quarterfinal meeting had much more on the line: a berth in the PIAA playoffs and a ticket to Tuesday night’s semifinal.

The top-seeded Pioneers were unfazed. Just like their first meeting, the Pioneers rolled to an easy victory, 17-7 in the quarterfinals at Harold I. Zimmerman Field at West Chester East High School.

Conestoga will tangle with No. 4 Great Valley on Tuesday at 6 p.m. at Haverford High School with a district championship berth at stake. Springfield will host No. 12 Souderton in the consolation bracket Tuesday at 4 p.m.

“It feels really great,’ Conestoga’s coach Amy Orcutt said. “We’re doing some really nice things. We’re playing strong team defense, and we’re seeing each other on offense.’

To say they are firing on all cylinders would be an understatement. Conestoga (20-1) is on a 20-game win streak and leaped out to a 7-0 lead.

The scoring started less than two minutes into the game when Scottie Growney threw a perfect pass to Sondra Dickey who blasted an off-balance shot past Cougars goalie Julianne Clemens. The junior made plays all over the field, finishing with a game-high six goals.

“It’s really all about the passing,’ Dickey said. “You can’t score goals unless someone gets you the ball and I thought my teammates made some excellent passes. We were also about to move the goalie around and that was huge.’

Two minutes after Dickey’s goal, she found Maggie Stetson who made the score 2-0 when she beat Clemens high left.

Dickey and Growney each scored on eight-meter shots to extend the lead to 4-0, and Hannah Ashton added to the lead when she tallied a goal in all sorts of traffic in the crease.

The Dickey, Growney duo each added another goal, and before people at Zimmerman Stadium could blink, the rout was on.

Two key reasons for the excellent start were Growney’s dominance in draw controls – – 12 – – and their unyielding defense.

“We knew since we played Springfield before that we had to work on our cuts,’ Growney said. “We worked on that and challenging them on defense. We were able to find the open girl a lot and that helped. We blend together so well so we always know where everyone is going to be.’

Senior captain Sarah Nicholson anchored the stingy defense, constantly harassing the Cougars’ (16-5) attackers.

“A lot of our defensive success was due to our teammwork and communication,’ Nicholson said. “We understand each other and know where we need to be at the right time.’

Springfield’s only bright spot was a 3-0 run towards the end of the first half. But the Pioneers answered right back with two goals, locking the score at halftime at 9-3.

“I thought we struggled a little bit in the middle of the game,’ Orcutt said. Our motion attack wasn’t really clicking and we were struggling to find each other. But once we got that back we turned it back on again.’

Nothing changed in the second half, Dickey and Growney imposed their will on the Central League opponent.

On a day where temperatures creeped into the 80s, Orcutt’s team reaped the benefits of having so much depth. The Pioneers cycled players in and out so they could stay hydrated and well rested.

“It was really nice to have that on a hot day,’ Orcutt said. “It’s only going to get hotter down the road and it’s great we have girls on the sideline that can come in and contribute.’

Conestoga held off Great Valley, 11-10, when they met in the regular season on April 18, and the drama should only be more intense Tuesday.

“We need to give it everything we got,’ Dickey said. “We know they’re just as good as us and honestly it’s anyones game so we need to go out there and want it more.’

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