WEST GOSHEN >> Dominance has its rewards. No, its not a tag line for a credit card commercial, but it could be the slogan for the 2022 Conestoga High School girls lacrosse season.
The Pioneers came into Saturday morning’s PIAA 3A championship tilt with Manheim Township winners of 18 straight contests, and 24 of 25 games. They have beaten just about everyone District 1 had to offer; now, it was the challenge by the District 3 champion, who had scored 55 goals in its three state games, that was keeping them from a championship.
The ladies from Berwyn proved move than able. They scored the game’s first five goals en route to a 15-7 victory at West Chester East’s Harold I. Zimmerman Stadium. The title is the school’s first since beating Radnor in 2016. The Blue Streaks (19-2) fell in the championship game for the third time in five years.
“I’m definitely super excited,” said Conestoga star Kate Galica. “I’m so glad we got the win. We worked so hard and we won the Central League and the districts, so its great to win states to get all three.”
“A lot of emotions, happy tears, sad tears that our seniors are leaving,” added Kiki Liebezeit. “I’m just glad I’m going out with these people and going out with a win.”
Chloe Brown, who scored the game-winning goal in the semifinal contest against Garnet Valley, won the opening draw control and set Conestoga on its way by getting the opening marker just a minute into the game.
Brown turned provider minutes later as she assisted on a goal by Ellie Wisch. Then, in short order, Melissa Hewitt, Galica and Liebezeit dented the net to make it a 5-0 lead with 13:35 left.
After being held to a lone assist against Garnet, Galica was eager to exert her influence on the score sheet.
“I was not too happy with my show,” she said. “I was definitely hungry for a championship. Last year, we lost in the semis. And in field hockey as well. I was definitely hungry for a state championship, as were we all.”
Alyssa Dotter halted the run, but it was only temporary as the Pioneers went on a four-goal spurt to build the advantage to 9-1.
Manheim scored twice in the latter part of the half to cut the defict to 9-3. But, Wisch scored after Galica took off on 40-yard sprint down the field as time was winding down to go up 10-3 at the break.
Wisch started the second half with her fourth goal of the game to extend the lead to 11-3. Manheim recorded the next two goals to make it 11-5 and a glimmer of hope started to set in on the Blue streaks sideline. But, Liebezeit scored twice in a row to restore Conestoga’s supremacy.
“We kept our foot on the pedal because we wanted this for our seniors so bad,” said Wisch. “We had a couple of sloppy plays, turnovers. We took a timeout and Amy (head coach Amy Orcutt) told us, ‘Get your heads back in it.’”
Conestoga held a 15-7 lead and held possession for the final 2:30 minutes to close out the game and send the sideline into jubilation.
The win was the second title for Orcutt, who received a souvenir when she suffered a cut above her left eye after being hit in the face with a clipboard after celebrating a goal.
“It’s all exciting,” she said. Number one, number two they’re all amazing. I just couldn’t be more proud of the team for their effort all season long and putting on a dominating show. It all came together at the right time.
“I could not be happier for the seniors. They have done a great job leading this team on and off the field. This team does so much off the field in the community helping people.”
The seniors include goalie Alanna Lepore, who had six saves on the day, Hewitt and defenders Bella Rios and Kat Bielinski.
The good news for Conestoga fans, but scary for opponents, is they may not be done. They only have seven seniors on the roster and of the goal scorers in the championship game, Wisch, Liebezeit, Brown and Keating Hopkins and sophomores and Galica is a junior.
“Hopefully,” said Wisch.
Conestoga 15, Manheim Township 7
Manheim Township 3 4 – 7
Conestoga 10 5 – 15
Manheim Township goals: Hilbert 2, B. Campagna 2, Dotter, C. Campagna, Walker.
Conestoga goals: Wisch 4, Liebezeit 4, Galica 4, Brown, Hewitt, Hopkins.
Goalie saves: Eckert (MT) 4; Lepore (C) 6.