Conestoga, Garnet Valley battle to back-and-forth Central League draw

TREDYFFRIN >> There wasn’t, technically, a winner on Tuesday in a key girls’ soccer showdown between Central League contenders Conestoga and Garnet Valley. It concluded as a 2-2 tie in double overtime — but don’t tell that to Jaguars’ longtime head coach Paul Costa.

“I told them that this is my 16th year and this is one of my favorite moments,” he said. “I am so proud of the hard work and the attitude these girls have. It’s exceptional.”

There were a whole lot of twists and turns at Teamer Field — including a goal in the final minute to send it to overtime — but it ultimately resulted in an entertaining, yet satisfying, draw — at least for the Jaguars. For the host Pioneers, it was decidedly less so.

“Garnet Valley always plays us tough and they don’t play timid,” said ’Stoga head coach Ben Wilson.

Less than a half minute away from defeat in regulation, the Jags sent it to overtime when Maddie Kalish delivered a long free kick into the box, and it was booted in for the equalizer by junior Carlie Shiller. Neither side scored in two 10-minute OT periods.

“I remember the determination that led up to that goal.” Costa said.

It was a stunner for a Conestoga team that suffered its first setback of the season the night before, 1-0, at Strath Haven. The Pioneers fall to 4-1-1.

“(Monday) night we were a little bit stunned, to be honest,” Wilson acknowledged. “We haven’t trailed in a game going back to the previous season. So I was happy that when (Garnet Valley) tied it in the second half and we responded very well.

“I was happy that after a tough loss (Monday) night, our team looked like we were all on the same page. We controlled the game for the most part.”

Junior defender Haleigh Winterstein registered a big goal midway through the second half to give ’Stoga a 2-1 lead. It came off a corner kick from teammate Reese Henderson , and it happened less than two minutes after the Jaguars (2-1-1) knotted the score at 1-1.

“The ball just kind of dropped in an odd spot,” Wilson said.

“I just remember that it tracked perfectly and it landed at my foot and I finished it,” Winterstein explained. “I didn’t have any time to think about anything.”

But with time running out, Garnet Valley took advantage of a free kick from about 40 yards out, and Kalish’s effort was perfect. Shiller’s goal came with 29 seconds on the clock.

When asked if it was the biggest of her career, Shiller initially said: ‘probably.’ But a few ticks later, she corrected herself: ‘No, I’d say for sure.’

The only prime scoring chance came in the second overtime when Conestoga’s Abby Klebe got off a shot with just over four minutes remaining, but it sailed just wide to the far side. The final stats show that the Pioneers had a 7-0 edge in corner kicks and an 18-7 advantage in shots on goal.

“When we came into the Central League back in 2007, I remember thinking about the respect we have for Conestoga’s program,” Costa said. “So for us to hang with them is a big moment for our program.”

Neither side generated much in the early going, but the Jags did have three free kicks in the opening 20 minutes. Garnet Valley’s Alyssa Wert had the match’s first prime scoring chance but her shot sailed wide with 12:33 on the clock.

Late in the first half, however, the Pioneers started to crank up the pressure, and Klebe scored on a header at 3:13 off a centering pass from teammate Emily Burgess.

The Jaguars knotted it at 1-1 when Julia McGonigal lofted a lengthy shot that went over the reach of ’Stoga keeper Caroline Klaiber at 18:57 to go. But Winterstein halted the momentum 1:46 later.

“That was a great high school soccer match,” Costa said.

“When (Garnet Valley scored with 29 seconds to go) it was a defeating feeling,”

Winterstein added. “But we kept playing physical in the overtime.”

Conestoga 2, Garnet Valley 2 (2OT)
Garnet Valley 0 2 0 0 – 2
Conestoga 1 1 0 0 – 2
Garnet Valley goals: McGonigal, Shiller.
Conestoga goals: Klebe, Winterstein.
Goalie saves: Saboja (GV) 16, Klaiber (C) 5.

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