After winning two straight District 1 boys' lacrosse championships, coach Brian Samson thought his Conestoga team had the personnel and skills to make it three in a row this season.
But for more than a half, it didn't look as if that was going to happen Thursday night in the district final, as Central Bucks East took a 3-2 lead into the first couple of minutes of the third quarter.
At that point, the Pioneers struck for four goals before the third period ended and went on to a 10-4 triumph at Radnor for their third straight district title.
Bill Flatley, Tyler Brooke, and Connor Frisina each scored two goals for Conestoga, the defending PIAA champion.
Both teams advance to the PIAA tournament, which will open Wednesday. The third-, fourth- and fifth-place teams also make the state tourney.
Central Bucks East opened the scoring on a goal by senior attack Ryan Whitney with 5 minutes, 24 seconds gone in the game. Twenty-nine seconds later, teammate Chris Vetter, a junior attack, made it 2-0.
Junior Parker Self scored for the Patriots to make it 3-1 with less than two minutes to go before halftime. Bill Flatley connected with 32 seconds left in the half to make it 3-2.
Entering the game, the top-seeded Pioneers had lost only to Haverford School, 11-5, on April 30 in the annual Katie Samson Festival at Radnor. The Fords are ranked first in the country by ESPN.
Conestoga has been a steady double-digit scoring team all season. The Central League champs have scored 210 goals and allowed only 91. The only games in which they failed to scored in double figures were the loss to Haverford School and a 9-6 win over Episcopal Academy on April 23.
In their first three district games, Conestoga averaged 10 goals in beating Hatboro-Horsham, Abington, and fourth seed Pennsbury.
Central Bucks East, the No. 2 seed, beat Ridley, Bishop Shanahan, and Downingtown West to reach the title game.
Central Bucks East 2 1 1 0 – 4
Conestoga 1 1 5 3 – 10
Goals: CBE-Ryan Whitney, Chris Vetter, Parker Self, Ethan Debuque; C-Bill Flatley 2, Tyler Brooke 2, Connor Frisina 2, Bradlee Lord, Tanner Scott, Kyle Morrison, Adam Goins.
Saves: CBE-Harrison Holak 8; C-John Lopes 6, Robert Zonino 1.