Conestoga tops Spring-Ford to return to District 1 semifinals – PA Prep Live | Rare Techy


Tredyffrin >> Watching the morning sun over Conestoga Teamer Field in a perfectly crisp late October isn’t nearly as idyllic as it sounds.

For opposing teams, that means it’s playoff time and the Pioneers aren’t playing host so they can hand out the candy.

The experience became even less ideal for Spring-Ford just 59 seconds into Saturday’s District 1 Class 4A quarterfinal.

Junior Diego Ramirez put the finishing touches on a first-minute long shot from right back Peter Miller, and Ramirez doubled his tally in the second half as Conestoga beat the Rams 2-0 to advance to the District 1 semifinals. for the third time in four years.

Conestoga’s Brady Costin and Spring-Ford’s Leo Aguilar battle for the ball Saturday. (Austin Hertzog – MediaNews Group)

The reigning District 1 and PIAA champion dominated the match against 12th-ranked Spring-Ford, not allowing the Rams to score.

Spring-Ford goalie PJ Pozniak rose to catch the ball in traffic on a layup against Conestoga on Saturday. (Austin Hertzog – MediaNews Group)

“It was a game plan to dominate, move the ball, play to the best of my ability,” Ramirez said. “We have the mentality to go 1-0 in every game. After this game, we’ll put it in the past and focus on the next one.

Next up for Conestoga (18-2) is a semifinal visit from No. 11 Pennridge (1-0 winner at Downingtown East Saturday) back to Conestoga on Tuesday. Spring-Ford (13-4-4) will begin back-to-back games as it travels to PIAA tournament seed No. 3 Downingtown East on Tuesday.

The intensity has been up in the postseason for longtime coach David Zimmerman’s Pioneers, and Saturday’s win was proof of that.

“Coming into all these playoff games, the mentality is different,” Miller said. “Everybody’s focused, everybody’s engaged and ready to play, no matter how far down the bench you are. It’s been great.”

Spring-Ford couldn’t match that mentality, especially in the first 20 minutes of the game.

“I knew they were going to be good, but I don’t think we’re going to compete at that level to compete with teams like that,” first-year Spring-Ford coach Mark Chambers said. “This is a learning experience for us. Hopefully we can take what we saw today and bring it on Tuesday. On Tuesday we play another good team. We are not out of it. We still have a chance to go to the state tournament, but we have to win on Tuesday.

The Rams have gotten off to a “notoriously slow start” this fall, according to Chambers, and the start couldn’t have been worse.

Less than a minute later, Miller tipped his long shot from the sideline toward the back post, bypassing the lineup and giving Ramirez a chance to get a hand and lift Conesto early.

“I saw Peter lining up and there were a couple of people in front packing the box, which is what we like to do,” Ramirez said. “I saw the ball slide over the top towards the back post. I was in the middle but I like to go back just in case and there it was.

Conesto’s Michael Haley (9) and Spring-Ford’s CJ Giles compete for the ball on Saturday. (Austin Hertzog – MediaNews Group)

Conestoga’s Ryan Carella (99) catches a high ball against Spring-Ford’s David Alban. (Austin Hertzog – MediaNews Group)

Miller, one of just six Stoga seniors, has taken over the throw-in mantle from graduated Lorenzo Vargas-Clarke, who was the X-factor throughout last year’s postseason and undefeated season.

“Last season was a lot of work, learning the form, being able to do it consistently without hurting yourself,” Miller said. “Lorenzo had back and shoulder problems, so I’m trying to make sure I don’t overdo it, but at the same time I’m ready to come every game.”

Conestoga dominated early and had other good scoring opportunities from Westin Fryberger and Charlie Culbert, but settled for a 1-0 halftime lead.

They weren’t bothered that the scoring margin didn’t reflect the one-sided action of the game.

“Our game plan is to grind teams out,” Ramirez said. “It could come in the first minute, it could come in the last minute. Our mentality is to keep going no matter what.

Conestoga got its reward 6:43 into the second period when Ramirez beat his defender one-on-one on an 18-ball from the left corner and fired a rising blast into the opposite sideline for a 2-0 lead.

“I punched the kid in the face and I saw that nobody pressured me to shoot,” Ramirez said. “I was on a tight angle, but I trusted my ability to put it in the top right corner.”

Spring-Ford’s best moment came with its worst. SF goalkeeper PJ Pozniak was red-carded for elbowing Cuthbert in the face while playing in position on the restart.

Senior goaltender Brendan Sites stepped in cold and saved a penalty shot by defenseman Brady Costin to keep it a two-goal game with 7:30 left. He should be able to start the replay due to Pozniak’s red card suspension.

Players are changing — significantly after a star-studded upperclassman from last fall, led by Player of the Year Sebastian Tis (Lafayette) — but results are rare for Conestoga.

This year’s side is carving its own path.

“Last spring, we talked about not coming to defend the state title. We come to hunt one,” said Miller. “We’re a completely different team, but we have the same values, the same game plan. It’s a different team and everyone has stepped up.

NOTES >> Conestoga led 8-0 in shots. Pozniak made four saves, while Sites had two.


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