NETHER PROVIDENCE — It was tied after one quarter and knotted at the half when coach Brody Bush had a heart-to-heart talk with the Conestoga lacrosse team on a deceptively cold Thursday evening at King Field.
Inspired by his words and body language the Pioneers exploded for three goals in 84 seconds early in the third quarter, senior Drew Merschel netting a pair to secure a 7-2 Central League victory over Strath Haven.
“We just told them, ‘Look, every Central League game is a dogfight,’” Bush said. “And we told the seniors that we needed them to step up so the younger guys would follow them, and they did. It’s a game of momentum. And our defense did a fantastic job. Holding a team to two goals is a really good job.”
Bush praised goalie Mikey Johnson, who had two saves yet distributed the ball efficiently to teammates, as well as faceoff man Holt McGinn, who won the bulk of his battles with Big Ben Farabaugh.
Merschel (6-2, 210) scored four goals, including three in the second half burst to power the Pioneers (6-1, 2-0), who boast one of the bigger lineups in the league. Wade Beckstrom added two goals for Conestoga, which never trailed.
“I would say we did come out sluggish, but the coaches talked to us and in the second half we really brought the energy,” Merschel said. “We played great offense there and we have great defense and that really helped us. I just kind of found the defenders were pushing out a lot. When I see that I just kind of had muscle memory of just ducking my guy and going low and shooting. They have a great goalie. I got the best of him today.”
Austin Conner, the twin of Panthers’ girls lacrosse star Laura Conner, and Tate Gorman scored goals for Strath Haven (3-2, 1-1).
Panthers goalie Charles Bogert registered seven saves in the first half, most of those dazzling, and finished with a dozen stops. Bogert robbed Merschel on back-to-back blasts in the crease, one on a rebound.
“He’s excellent,” Panthers coach Josh Davey said. “He’s stoic in there. I think he’s the best goalie in the league, no doubt. We’ve just got to give him a little bit of help on the offensive side of the ball.”
The Panthers battled throughout the night, most notably midfielder Traeger Hogarth, who used his quickness to set teammates up. But as sound as they played in the first half they cracked under fire in the third period, which considering the opposition is nothing to be ashamed of.
“We lost ourselves. We were a little bit disorganized on defense in that third quarter,” Davey said. “I think we got a little complacent that we were tied at halftime against a team we haven’t beaten in a while and came out a little flat. In a game where you only score two goals, you can’t have a little lapse of effort and focus there. They got us and it was hard to dig out of the hole after that.”
Elsewhere in the Central League:
Penncrest 10, Haverford 8 >> Wyatt Hannemann and Spencer Meile led the offense with three goals each for the Lions.
Spencer Tyson added one goal and two assists while Owen Thompson (one goal, one assist) also had a multi-point game.
Nils McCallion topped the Fords with three goals. Ben Devitis and Brendan McNichol chipped in with two goals and one assist each. Ben Devitis was 16-for-20 in the faceoff circle.
Springfield 16, Upper Darby 0 >> Davie Keller led a balanced attack with three goals. Ty Gougler added two goals for the Cougars, who had 13 players find the back of the net. Pat Flaherty and Jared Kennedy pitched in with one goal and two assists each. Jimmy Kennedy, Luke Valerio and Evan Diblasi added one goal and one assist apiece.
Marple Newtown 15, Lower Merion 6 >> Joey Yukenavitch (four goals, one assist) and Evan Kostack (three goals, three assists) did most of the damage for the Tigers. Brian Box recorded a hat trick and Ryan Keating and Brett Wolski added two goals each. Alex Chambers was 20-for-21 on faceoffs.
Garnet Valley 10, Ridley 4 >> Kris Henning put together a big game with five goals and one assist. Andrew Goldt recorded a hat trick and Josh Graham tallied two goals. Kai Lopex (10-for-13) and Gavin Rossello (1-for-2) were a combined 11-for-15 on faceoffs.
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