This was an example of why Conestoga deserves lofty rankings in boys' lacrosse. As Emmaus found out yesterday, nothing appears to bother the Pioneers.
The Green Hornets had an early lead, solid goalkeeping, and an impressive rally. But . . .
Conestoga still defeated Emmaus, 9-4, in a PIAA state quarterfinal at Harriton High School.
"It's a team that [refuses] to lose," said Conestoga senior attackman Paul Mita, whose squad is ranked second in the state by Phillylacrosse.com. The Pioneers are third in the nation according to Laxpower.com's computer rankings.
The victory sent Conestoga (23-1) into the semifinals at 1 p.m. Tuesday at Harriton. The Pioneers, who are District 1's top seed, will face the district's third seed, Springfield (Delco), a 7-4 winner over District 3 third seed Carlisle.
The win gave Conestoga a sweep of this season's meetings with Emmaus. On March 24, the Pioneers beat Emmaus, 8-6. The District 11 champion ended the season at 19-5.
"You have to play through the ups and down," Mita said of Conestoga's ability to shake off Emmaus' runs. "You have to play through it and do what we do."
And what Conestoga did to the team ranked seventh in the state by Phillylacrosse.com was take away its momentum.
Mita played a big role in that, finishing with a game-high three goals. Reserve attackman Jeff Chu added two goals.
Early on, Emmaus appeared capable of pulling off an upset.
Green Hornets goalie Dan Zagnoli stopped the Pioneers' first four shots. Emmaus had a 1-0 cushion thanks to Will Scott's goal with 8 minutes, 40 seconds remaining in the first quarter.
The momentum began to shift to Conestoga when Matt Smith knotted the score with 2:02 left in the quarter. Mita scored an unassisted goal 1:15 later.
The Villanova recruit added another score eight seconds into the second quarter. Chu's goal with 2:44 to play before intermission gave Conestoga a 4-1 advantage.
It didn't last long.
Emmaus scored three goals in the third quarter to knot the score with 2:40 left in the period. But as they have done all season, the Pioneers answered immediately.
Mita scored his third goal with 2:19 left in the quarter. Thirteen seconds later, Tanner Scott's goal gave Conestoga a 6-4 advantage, and the rout was on.
Emmaus 1 0 3 0 - 4
Conestoga 2 2 2 3 - 9
Goals: E-Will Scott 2, Mic DeBellis, Alex Kuehner. C-Paul Mita 3, Jeff Chu 2, Matt Smith, Tanner Scott, Austin Rogusky, Ryan Lord.
Saves: E-Dan Zagnoli 13. C-Pete Zonino 3.