Conestoga boys are ready for PIAA lacrosse finale
Technically, high school is over for Tommy Sopko. The Conestoga senior already had his graduation ceremony on the school's football field Wednesday evening.
Technically, high school is over for Tommy Sopko.
The Conestoga senior already had his graduation ceremony on the school's football field Wednesday evening.
"It was a pretty good close to high school and kind of made it official that we're done and moving on," said Sopko. "After Saturday, I was kind of finished at Conestoga High School, and it was sad and sentimental, but it was definitely a good thing because it was along with all of my friends."
There is, however, the not-so-small matter of the PIAA 3A boys' lacrosse championship game against Avon Grove at 4 p.m. Saturday at West Chester East.
"It's super exciting," said Sopko, an attacker who will play at Bucknell. "We're all excited to have a chance to play for this regardless of the outcome. This has been one of our biggest goals, and so far we've been pretty good at hitting them . . . and all we're trying to do is check this last goal off our list."
The Pioneers (22-3) claimed the District 1 title with a 14-12 victory over the Red Devils on May 25. In fact, Conestoga, which last won the state title in 2012, hasn't lost a game since April 29 against Malvern Prep.
Sopko, who leads the team with 75 goals and 42 assists, said the strength of Conestoga's attack is its depth and willingness to share.
"Every single guy on our team can play," he said. "Anybody on the field - long-stick, short-stick - can score. When anybody has the ball on their stick, we're just really confident in what we can do."
Henry Berg, a fellow senior, will play at Mount St. Mary's and is second on the team with 48 goals and 21 assists.
Georgetown-bound junior James Reilly has procured 63 percent of his faceoff attempts and could figure prominently in the final by keeping Conestoga's high-powered offense operating with possession.
The Pioneers punished Mount Lebanon, the No. 2 seed from District 7, 13-3, in the semifinals Tuesday, while Avon Grove held off Central Bucks East, 8-6, in the semis.
In the quarterfinals, the Patriots had knocked off nationally ranked La Salle, which defeated Conestoga earlier this season.
The Red Devils last played for the title in 2014, when they lost to Penncrest.
Sopko was in middle school when Conestoga last won the championship, but had met several players from that team and always admired the program's dominance. The Pioneers won titles in 2010, 2011, and 2012.
Sopko would like nothing more than to continue the winning ways.
"It'd be amazing," he said. "I couldn't ask for a better end to my high school career as a lacrosse player and just as a student at Conestoga. This team, we've really worked hard for this, and I just can't imagine a better group of guys to win it with."