READING — Conestoga spent much of the PIAA Class 3A field hockey quarterfinals setting themselves up around the Manheim Township defensive circle. The Pioneers had 27 corners in the double-overtime contest.
The Blue Streaks repelled the first 26 – and in some ways, even repelled the 27th, as well. But a shot off the left goal post ricocheted back across the goalmouth, were Keating Hopkins tapped the ball in for a 2-1 Conestoga victory with 1:50 left in the second overtime.
The Pioneers (21-2) will play in their second straight state semifinal on Tuesday against Lower Dauphin, a 2-1 overtime winner over Great Valley.
Manheim Township (19-7) had to fend off corners at the end of both regulation and the first overtime.
At the end of the fourth period, Conestoga had a corner that extended past the end of the clock, but Blue Streak goalie Zoe Caloviras made one of her 21 saves to force the extra periods.
Conestoga was awarded a corner as the seconds ticked away on the first overtime as well, but a shot attempt was too high and ruled dangerous.
“Our defense has been outstanding all season,” Manheim Township head coach Jess Shellenberger said. “Defense is a mentality, and we have some tough girls back there. Our corner defense was great all day. They did a good job of reading the plays.”
Manheim Township had a couple of scoring chances during the seven-on-seven overtimes. Brooke Weaver had a reverse stick shot in the opening minutes of the first overtime, but Alex Lepore made a save with her right pad.
Two minutes into the second overtime, the Blue Streaks had a few chances on their fourth and last corner of the game. However, they were from too close into Lepore, who was able to take away any angle towards the goal cage.
The Blue Streaks scored on their one significant scoring chance of the first half. On their only corer in the first 40 minutes of play, Maddie Wagner scored with an assist by Natalie Phillips with 7:16 to go in the half. Brenna Campagna had the original shot on the play before Phillips extended the action by scooping up the rebound.
Other than that score, though, the Blue Streaks had very little possession time inside the Pioneer circle during the 60 minutes of 11-on-11 action. Their only other corner in regulation did not generate a shot.
“There was a lack of possession at points in our attacking third,” Shellenberger said. “We could have dribbled a little more at times and became a little indecisive.”
Conestoga evened the score 1-1 with 10:46 left in the third quarter. Kate Galica scored with an assist by Alyssa Mullin.
The Pioneers had several chances after that to take the lead, including back-to-back corners midway through the fourth quarter. That opportunity was turned away by Elle Commerce, who intercepted a dangerous crossing path in the goal mouth.
The Blue Streaks had seven shots on goal. Caloviras made 21 saves. Weaver added a defensive save during a corner early in the second period.
The Pioneers had 24 shots on goal. Lepore made six saves.
Conestoga received five green cards to one for Manheim Township, however, none of the two-minute player-up situations led to any scoring chances.