OT game-winner lifts Conestoga past Downingtown West
TREDYFFRIN » Meredith Ross may have inadvertently discovered the key to cracking the tough Downingtown West defense — take shots from lousy angles and hope they go in.
For the second time this year, Ross’ Pioneer squad found themselves in overtime with the Whippets. Earlier in the year, the Michigan State recruit slipped in the game-winner from the left side of the circle. Tuesday night in the District 1 3A semifinal, Ross let loose with a backhanded shot from the right side of the circle and at an absurd angle, yet somehow the ball found its way home, and No. 2 Conestoga earned a slot in the District 1 championship game.
The Pioneers will square off against No. 5 Central Bucks West, a 4-3 upset winner in doubleovertime over top-seeded Union-
ville. Game time is set for Saturday at 5:30 at Methacton High School.
“I don’t know how it got in,” admitted Ross. “I was remembering how horrible an angle it was last time so I thought I should shoot and hope it goes in. I couldn’t believe it, but it worked.”
West got on the board first. With just over eight minutes elapsed in the first half, the No. 3 Whippets brought the ball into a crowd in front of the cage. Tatum Johnson let loose with a shot, but was stuffed by Conestoga goalie Ali Showers. But an alert Claudia Jaszczak grabbed it and slammed it off the back of the cage for a 1-0 Whippets lead.
“That played a lot on my mind when they scored that early goal, because Downingtown West has such a great defensive unit,” said Pioneers coach Megan Smyth. “That’s probably their biggest strength. But I knew these girls could do it. Time was ticking away though.”
Nine minutes into the second half, the Pioneers were awarded a corner, and got the ball to Charlotte DeVries, who tried to go top shelf with a bullet of a shot, but West’s Caitlyn Coker batted it away to preserve the Whippet lead.
The game was in its final ten minutes when Conestoga forced another corner, once again putting it on the stick of DeVries. This time, though, DeVries’ shot was true, tying the game at 1-1 with 9:42 to play.
“That’s been our go-to corner all year,” said DeVries. “I usually try to shoot off my forehand, but this time they overcommitted, so I just pulled it left. I wasn’t really expecting it do go in, but it did. I’m just so excited to be getting to a district final.” Overtime is getting to be a habit when these two teams play. The last three matchups have resulted in extra time.
“This is just two good teams that always seem to go overtime,” said West coach Jeff Riccardo. “I thought we played well, and we played hard. This was a great game. But we’re going to the state tournament, and I think we’ll be in a good position. We’ve played about as tough a schedule as you can get. (Coach) Liz Morrow does a great job getting us the kind of games that prepare us for this time of the season.” The Whippets will play at Unionville Friday in the game for third and fourth places in District 1.
Conestoga moves on to a district title game for the first time in Smyth’s tenure as head coach, after several years of near misses.
“I am so excited, especially with this being my senior year,” said Ross. “We’ve never gotten there while any of us have been here.”
Conestoga celebrates the overtime game-winner Tuesday night as Downingtown West walks off the field.