Conestoga falls short in overtime
LANGHORNE >> Facing top-seeded Neshaminy in a District 1 4A semifinal Wednesday night at Harry Franks Stadium, the bus carrying the Conestoga team arrived a little late to the matchup in Bucks County.
While acknowledging that their late arrival didn’t affect his fourth-seeded Pioneers, firstyear head coach Ben Wilson admitted his team never caught up to the Lady Redskins (19-1-1) in a 1-0 loss. The Redskins are headed to their first District 1 final under third-year coach Chelsea Lovelace.
“Neshaminy deserved to win,” admitted Wilson. “The level that we were playing at isn’t the level at which we normally play.
“We were just a step slow tonight — a step slow to all the 5050 (balls),” Wilson said. “It’s been a long season. Eventually, these games catch up with you.”
Conestoga will host Central Bucks South Saturday to decide third place and set the seeds for the state playoffs.
After Neshaminy blew several scoring chances in the first 15 minutes, the Pioneers (15-2-4) seemed quite content playing the Skins in a midfield game. Defensively, the strategy worked for the Central Division runners-up, who held Neshaminy scoreless — for the first 80 minutes.
“They’re content playing the ball around and then they kind of look for a defensive error to try to find a goal,” said Lovelace. “I think there was a couple times where we did lose our focus in the back but I think we took care of it for the most part.”
Unfortunately for the Pioneers, they couldn’t keep the ’Skins from scoring in the extra session. Finally breaking a scoreless tie just 4:43 into overtime, Neshaminy freshman Kristin Curley scored on a set piece, getting on the end of a throw-in from junior Jenna Obringer.
Curley took a flick from sophomore Brooke Mullin and top-shelfed a ball from the top of the box for the game’s only goal, sending the Skins to Saturday’s D-1 title tilt against No. 3 Pennridge, which needed a 10-round penalty kick session to get past seventhseeded CB South.
The Titans will be Conestoga’s next opponent and the Pioneers will host the Central Bucks team, also on Saturday, in a battle for third place. Either way, ‘Stoga is headed to states. If they win Saturday, they take on the District 11 champ on Tuesday in a PIAA opener. Lose, and they face the District 12 champion in the first round of states.
In this game, the best chance for either team to score in regulation came in the final minutes of the second half. With seven minutes remaining, Conestoga junior reserve midfielder Emily Maneri blasted a wicked shot in on the Skins goal that Neshaminy sophomore keeper Riley Spingler put a stop to.
“Maneri’s been great,” said Wilson. She started out the season not playing a whole lot; she actually had mono at the beginning of the season and that really affected her.
“But as the season has gone on, she’s just been getting more and more playing time.
“Since we’ve been in the playoffs, she’s really coming to life. Her pressuring up top and in attacking mid – wherever she’s at – I think it’s a real game-changer for us.”