Conestoga at Strath Haven Boys’ Soccer
There has been a lot of talk about hurricanes this fall. Well there is a Category 5 brewing in the form of a dominant boys’ soccer team in Delaware County. Under a misty crescent moon, the undefeated Conestoga Pioneers arrived early for a game against fellow Central League member Strath Haven, the Black Panthers.
The Pioneers have been ranked number one in the nation as recently as last week in the Fab 50 poll, prior to their out of league tie against The Haverford School, also a highly rated team. They did not disappoint on this muggy night at George L. King Field in the Wallingford/Swarthmore school district.
The first ten minutes had the two quality squads feeling each other out. In the 11th minute, the Pioneers struck as Rodrigo Martinez, a senior mid, was able to poke a shot past GK Noah Atsaves after a throw-in. Another score followed in the 29th minute from a corner to Alyan Youssaf, who snuck a quick right footed touch-in.
Conestoga presents a team that has solid fundamentals throughout, constant pressure both offensively and defensively, ball skills, lots of speed, crisp passing, a very deep bench and great teamwork. Strath Haven is not lacking for some of these attributes either, but the onslaught of the Pioneers was difficult to overcome.
Pioneer goal keeper Luke Smith is big and athletic. He seems rather impenetrable and was not really tested in the first half. He comes from a family in which at least five cousins are, or will be, Division 1 athletes in various sports. He’s just a junior. Michael McCarthy, an oversized junior sweeper, patrols in front of Smith, turning away many opportunities for opposing teams.
Only seven seniors populate the roster for ‘Stoga, who is the reigning quad A PA state champs after a 25-1 season in 2016. Their only loss came in the District 1 final against West Chester Henderson. Their record over the two year period to this point…35-1-1. Coach David Zimmerman has been pushing all the right buttons. He is a graduate of The Haverford School and is in charge of all aspects of the game at all times, including bench behavior. With many underclassmen giving significant contributions, the future bodes well for this team.
A goal in the 58th minute by Chris Donovan, a junior striker, and a final one in the 70th minute with Logan Schwartz, a senior defender getting the credit from a head flick by Donovan, yielded the final score of 4-0. Next up for the Pioneers is Haverford (Public). It appears that the biggest challenge will be Lower Merion, also of the Central League and currently undefeated, on October 17th, the last league game of the season.