The moment the Conestoga boys' lacrosse team longed for is here.

It was nice to nab the Central League championship. The Pioneers also enjoyed winning the District 1 title.

But those moments don't compare to winning a state championship. Conestoga now gets a chance to obtain that ultimate goal.

The Pioneers defeated Springfield (Delco), 9-4, in yesterday's PIAA state semifinal at Harriton.

Conestoga (24-1) will play in Saturday's 2 p.m. final at HersheyPark Stadium in Hershey. District 1's top-seeded team will face District 12 champion La Salle, a winner last night over District 3's top seed, Manheim Township.

The win also gave the Pioneers a sweep of this season's meetings with the Cougars. Conestoga beat Springfield, 12-9, in April. This loss ended the Cougars' season at 19-6. They were the District 1's third seed.

"This is what [all the hard work] has been leading up to," Jeff Chu, a Conestoga reserve junior attackman, said of advancing to the state final.

Getting this far shouldn't come as a surprise.

The Pioneers are ranked second in the state by Conestoga is third in the nation, according to's computer rankings. The Pioneers are also ranked 13th in the Under Armour/Inside Lacrosse national rankings.

"This is a special time," Chu said.

It was extra special for Chu and junior attackman Matt Smith. The duo stood out against the state's fifth-ranked team, according to

Smith finished with a game-high three goals and two assists. Chu added two goals and two assists.

But early on, Springfield looked capable of pulling off the upset.

A lot of that had to do with Cougars goalie Austin Kaut, who finished with 15 saves. The junior stopped the Pioneers' first five shots en route to having seven first-quarter saves.

Springfield led, 1-0, thanks to sophomore attackman Joe Venit's goal with 5 minutes, 46 seconds remaining in the quarter.

The Pioneers answered 42 seconds later on a goal by Chu. Then, Mike Ackerman scored to give Conestoga a 2-1 advantage with 8:30 left in the second quarter.

Undaunted, Springfield went on to knot the score twice before intermission. The second time came when Joe Addona's goal made it a 3-3 contest with 2.9 seconds left in the half.

Outshooting the Cougars by 9-2, the Pioneers broke the game open in the third quarter. Austin Rogusky scored the go-ahead goal with 9:31 left in the quarter. The Pioneers led, 5-3, on Smith's first goal of the game with 2:16 left in the quarter.

"We just came out firing," Smith said of the second half.

Conestoga put the game out reach with two early fourth-quarter scores. Springfield pulled to within 7-4 on Venit's second goal with 6:05 remaining. But that was as close as the Cougars got.

Springfield (Delco) 1 2 0 1 - 4

Conestoga 1 2 2 4 - 9

GOALS: S-Jeff Venit 2, John Cugini, Joe Addona. C-Matt Smith 3, Jeff Chu 2, Mike Ackerman, Kevin Rudd, Austin Rogusky, Peter Bowers.

SAVES: S-Austin Kaut 15. C-Pete Zonino 5.

Contact staff writer Keith Pompey at 610-313-8029 or