Conestoga starts fast, rolls into title game
The Pioneers will get to defend their state championship after a victory over C.B. East.
Conestoga needed a strong second half to put away Central Bucks East a little less than two weeks ago.
Tuesday, Conestoga's strong first half quickly turned the rematch into a rout.
The Pioneers carried an 8-0 lead into halftime on their way to a 14-4 victory over East in a PIAA state boys' lacrosse semifinal at Harriton.
Conestoga, the top seed in District 1, advances to the state final at 3 p.m. Saturday in Hershey, where they will defend their championship against St. Joseph's Prep.
In their three state-playoff victories this season, the Pioneers are outscoring opponents by an average of more than 11 goals per game.
"I'm happy with the way they've played this entire tournament," coach Brian Samson said. "They really like each other, and they like playing for each other."
The Pioneers (24-1), with their well-balanced offense, scored in bunches Tuesday, led by attack Connor Frisina, who finished with two goals and one assist.
The junior netted his first goal on a brilliant dodge play from the wing to place the team ahead by 4-0 with 2 minutes, 13 seconds remaining in the opening quarter. The goal came a mere 32 seconds after Frisina assisted Charlie Hildebrand for a fastbreak goal.
"Our game plan was to come out fast," Frisina said. "Our offense was great. We jumped on them quick."
After a Conestoga timeout just seconds before halftime, junior long-pole defenseman Jamie Ikeda scored a wonder goal from around 40 yards, as his low, bouncing shot sneaked past the goalie and brought awes from the crowd.
Ikeda said the play was improvised during the timeout by Samson, and the shot was tipped by a defender on its way into the net.
Before the Patriots (22-3) scored two quick goals to open the second half, their attack never seemed to come together. They missed a few opportunities to capitalize on Conestoga mistakes, including an inability to get a shot after forcing a turnover to the right of the net and later missing by a few inches on a low, close-range shot.
The two teams had met in the District 1 final on May 26, with Conestoga winning, 10-4, after erasing a three-goal deficit in the first half. Samson said the Pioneers played a much better first half Tuesday, and he attributed that to the strong play of his midfielders.
Central Bucks East 0 0 2 2 – 4
Conestoga 4 4 3 3 – 14
Goals: CBE-Ryan Whitney, Parker Self 2, Matt Heim; C-Billy Flatley 2, Tyler Brooke, Charlie Hildebrand 2, Connor Frisina 2, Tanner Scott 2, Brad Lord, Jamie Ikeda, Jordan Klunder, Kyle Morrison 2.
Saves: CBE-Harrison Holak 12; C-Jon Lopes 6, Robbie Zonino 7.