Con­estoga rolls to vic­tory over Gar­net Val­ley

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - SPORTS - By Matthew De Ge­orge mde­ge­orge @21st-cen­tu­ry­media.com @sports­doc­tormd on Twit­ter

An­drew Weir stood on the turf at Moe DeFrank Sta­dium Thurs­day af­ter­noon, flab­ber­gasted at what the score­board was telling him.

The board showed Weir’s Gar­net Val­ley side on the wrong end of a 5-0 de­ci­sion to Con­estoga, a re­sult that sold short how com­pet­i­tive the Jags were in a game against na­tion­ally-ranked op­po­si­tion. For as even as they played in so many as­pects, the Jaguars still found them­selves run through by the un­beaten Pi­o­neers.

“I don’t think the score re­ally re­flected the game,” Weir said. “I think we played pretty even with them. They cap­i­tal­ized on their chances when we didn’t.”

Call it the Con­estoga ef­fect. It takes too much ef­fort to just tread wa­ter against a team so deep and so tal­ented, only to see the Pi­o­neers (13-0 over­all, 8-0 Cen­tral League) ef­fort­lessly and ruth­lessly fin­ish halfchances and stran­gle the life out of a team’s re­solve.

That should come as no sur­prise for a team that has as­cended to No. 2 in USA To­day’s (al­beit spe­cious) na­tional rank­ings, one that has con­ceded a scant seven goals all sea­son.

It’s said that in soc­cer, a sport where the in­di­vid­ual’s im­pact is so eas­ily out­weighed by the col­lec­tive, the weak­est link rather than the strong­est de­ter­mines a team’s abil­ity. For the Pi­o­neers, that weak link, as com­pared to most teams in the Cen­tral League, is some­where deep in the re­cesses of the JV team. And the waves of pres­sure gen­er­ated by coach David Zim­mer­man’s 19-man ro­ta­tion of reg­u­lars, usu­ally subbed in doses of four or five, that del­uge op­po­nents il­lus­trate that.

They got the early opener Thurs­day, Chris Dono­van cash­ing in when Ma­son Miller pounced on a back­line er­ror in the third minute. But Gar­net Val­ley (94, 6-2) sta­bi­lized the game, even pushed the is­sue and cre­ated qual­ity chances.

Then in came the sec­ond pla­toon, which in­cluded Nino Mauro out wide and Teddy Pastva up top, and within a mat­ter of min­utes, the lead was dou­bled via the lat­ter, de­cid­edly against the run of play.

“Me and the two other mid­dies, we just try to go in and pres­sure them un­til they’re worn out,” Pastva said, re­fer­ring to Mauro and Matt Rossi. “That’s our job, just to go in, pres­sure them and wear them out, then get the next wave of guys to come in.”

The fi­nal tally gives Con­estoga a slight edge in shots on tar­get, 10-8, though Gar­net Val­ley owned a more marked edge in to­tal shots, thanks to a half dozen looks from dis­tance bashed just over the bar or wide of the cage.

Ja­cob Sch­wien had ar­guably the best chance, 14 min­utes into the sec­ond half in a 2-0 game, but his drive curled just over. Michael Buchy thud­ded a sneaky cor­ner kick off the near post, the phys­i­cal Matt Moore tested the Con­estoga de­fense with sev­eral dan­ger­ous chances blazed wide, and Weir ag­o­niz­ingly watched a pair of ef­forts from out­side the box fail to sneak un­der the cross­bar. They forced five saves from goalie Luke Smith, in­clud­ing a sun-glare-aided bob­ble of a bombed free kick by David Cress­man that nearly slith­ered through his gloves and in.

They weren’t merely pot­shots of a des­per­ate side but sus­tained pres­sure that would’ve re­sulted in goals against a lesser side — as it has in the Jags’ first 12 games of the sea­son be­fore Thurs­day, their first shutout of the year.

“They came out hard, with Matt Moore,” Con­estoga full­back Gabe Harms said. “They came out with a lot of pres­sure.”

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