Big 2nd half leads ’Stoga to vic­tory

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - SPORTS - By Ed­die Levin For Dig­i­tal First Me­dia

TREDYF­FRIN >> Each time the Con­estoga boys’ soc­cer team takes the field, they do so with a tar­get on their back.

Tues­day evening against vis­it­ing Har­ri­ton was no dif­fer­ent, as the hosts broke open a close game in the se­cond half to post a 5-1 win over their Cen­tral League ri­vals in key match-up at Teamer Field.

“Be­fore each game in the locker room we start off say­ing we have a tar­get on our back and every team wants to beat us and it re­ally mo­ti­vates us to come out strong,” said Con­estoga ju­nior Nick Jen­nings, who fin­ished the night with one goal and one as­sist. “Just know­ing other teams want to beat us we have to come out strong in both halves and play our best.”

Hold­ing a 2-1 lead at half­time, Con­estoga emerged from the locker room and came out strong with the com­bi­na­tion of Jen­nings and fel­low ju­nior Chris Dono­van team­ing up to score two of Con­estoga’s next three goals to break open a close game and give the hosts a 4-1 lead with 12:06 to play.

“Chris and I have been play­ing bas­ket­ball and soc­cer to­gether since we were eight years old so we have built a good chem­istry that we know where each other is on the field,” Jen­nings said.

Dono­van, who fin­ished with two goals and one as­sist, said, “I be­lieve those se­cond half goals knocked down some of their mo­ti­va­tion to keep go­ing. To beat an­other Main Line team is al­ways nice.”

Con­estoga head coach Dave Zim­mer­man added, “They (Chris and Nick) play on the same club team so it does not sur­prise me they have great chem­istry. They know where each other is on the field and they are both great passers and fin­ish­ers.”

Con­estoga jumped out of the gates quickly scor­ing in the first 30 sec­onds when they cap­i­tal­ized on a set piece that was served into the box by se­nior Blaise Mi­lanek (com­mit­ted to Le­high) and fin­ished by Will Klein, who beat Har­ri­ton keeper Jake Put­nam.

Fol­low­ing the quick start, the Har­ri­ton de­fense firmed up and went on the at­tack plac­ing Con­estoga on their heels for the next 10 min­utes. Dur­ing that time, the Rams net­ted the equal­izer when Alex Cades con­verted a set piece when he placed the shot on goal that would de­flect off the Con­estoga wall and into the back of the net.

Just be­fore half­time, Con­estoga be­gan to re­gain their of­fen­sive spark and fi­nally found the back of the net with 5:23 left when Lo­gan Schwartz beat Put­nam with a header off a Mi­lanek set piece into the box.

With his fo­cus geared to­ward for­mu­lat­ing a new de­fense, Zim­mer­man saw glimpses of that chem­istry com­ing to­gether as his de­fense was able to over­come some early turnovers and hold yet an­other op­po­nent to one goal or less. Early this sea­son, Con­estoga held peren­nial pow­ers Cen­tral Bucks South and West Ch­ester Hen­der­son to a com­bined one goal.

“De­fense wins cham­pi­onships, right?” said Zim­mer­man, fol­low­ing the con­test. “All sea­son we have been fo­cus­ing on de­vel­op­ing our de­fense and I thought they played well but I still think we can be bet­ter. I credit Har­ri­ton tonight for putting us on our heels but I was happy to see us over­come and con­tinue to work hard and come away with the win.”

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