Conestoga nabs district title
McGillis’ three goals lift Pioneers to first Class AAA title
Fifth-seeded Central Bucks West came into Saturday’s District 1 Class AAA field hockey championship off an emotional semifinal victory over topseeded Unionville, that coach Courtney Lepping called the most important in her tenure.
They were riding high and feeling confident against No. 2 Conestoga, and came out of the game firing. But, the Pioneers found a connection the Bucks couldn’t seem to stop, as Emma McGillis recorded a hat trick to help Conestoga post a 5-2 win for its first district title.
“Yes, this is an amazing feeling,” said Conestoga coach Megan Smyth. “We just came in here tonight with the right energy, and once they start moving the ball the way we did, it’s a tough team to stop.”
West got out to the early lead, when Bryan Boylan scored the game’s first goal off a penalty corner just over three minutes into the contest.
“Yes, this is an amazing feeling. We just came in here tonight with the right energy, and once they start moving the ball the way we did, it’s a tough team to stop.” – Conestoga coach Megan Smyth
Conestoga was visibly motivated by the early deficit, and began to put serious pressure inside the circle, forcing seven corners over a 10-minute span. Awarded a corner at the 12:55 mark, Kiley Allen put the ball in play on the insert, sending it in to Charlotte de Vries at the top of the circle. She moved to her left along the circle, then unleashed
a shot towards the cage, sending it in front of a drawn out Laura Kubit in goal. Waiting just beyond Kubit was Emma McGillis, all by herself, to make the easy tap in.
Two minutes later, Ryan Murray put the Bucks back on top, slipping a goal in a crowd for a 2-1 lead. The advantage couldn’t have been much more short-lived, as 16 seconds later, de Vries sent another cross to McGillis and another score to tie it at 2-2.
“We all just wanted this
game so bad,” said McGillis. “We know we have the talent level to score on corners, we practiced our corners all week, and everyone knew we had to take advantage of them tonight. We’ve gotten a little further each year I’ve been here, so it’s great to finally come out on top.”
The two found each other once again before the end of the first half, this time with McGillis scoring despite tumbling over Kubit, who came out aggressively to make the unsuccessful
attempt at a save.
“It’s always great to be able to answer a goal with one of your own,” said de Vries. “We never worry too much about getting behind because we know what we can do. This is a great feeling to know we are the first in program history.”
The Pioneers notched another pair of goals in the second half, a rocket from about the 10-yard line from de Vries, and Kylie Allen with a de Vries assist iced it with a score 4:21 to play.
“They didn’t do anything that caught us by surprise,” said CB West coach, Courtney Lapping, “We knew they were a strong team with a lot of defensive weapons and we would have to be at our best. I don’t think we played badly and these girls have nothing to hang their heads about. We just have to put this behind us and get ready for the state tournament next week, our season is far from over.”
The Bucks will face District 11 runner-up Stroudsburg, while the Pioneers move on to play Hershey, the fourth place finisher from District 3 in the first round of the state tournament Tuesday at a site and time to be announced.
“This is just phase two of our goals, so we’re not done yet,” said Smyth. “We’re going to enjoy this amazing feeling for tonight, but then we’ll get right back to work on the next phase of our goals.”
Conestoga’s Charlotte de Vries celebrates as time runs out in the District 1 Class AAA Field Hockey Championship against Lower Merion on Saturday.