By KURT ROHRBECK
SENIOR STAFF REPORTER
Tired of facing doubts every year as to whether or not they could replace the previous year’s seniors, the Conestoga boys’ lacrosse team has skipped the rebuilding stage and has moved on to complete dominance.
Over a month into the season, the team currently stands at a thoroughly impressive 12-1 record on the year. The team has been thoroughly dominant in their games, winning by an average of almost six goals per contest.
Only a heartbreaking 12-11 overtime loss against St. Joseph’s Prep on April 25 has kept the team from a spotless record. The team was ranked 6th in the nation on insidelacrosse.com prior to the loss but should still remain in the top 10 in today’s updated rankings.
An unprecedented level of early dominance says a lot about this team and those on it, and it shows that they’re certainly not fazed by the prospect of replacing those who led the team before them.
Replacing goalie Pete Fox, the leader of last year’s defense, is no small task, but this team sure has made it seem like one. Senior Nick Shea and junior Pete Zonino stand between the pipes in goal, and seniors Mike Bronzino (the team’s lone captain this season) and Evan Bohner take charge of the defense around the goalies.
The results? Convincing. Through April 27, the Pioneers had given up a mere 5.3 goals per game–not much more than a goal per quarter.
“[Our] defense is fantastic and has always been great,” senior attacker Paul Mita said. “I think that this year we elevated from a good team to a dominant team because with our defense we have tons of depth.”
The outer layer of the defense has been on complete lockdown so far through the season. And any time the opponents manage to get a shot in, Shea and Zonino, who split each game by the half, have been solid presences in goal.
With all of this said, defense is only half of the battle. Luckily, the other half isn’t doing too badly, either. Mita and junior Matt Smith are the team’s most dangerous attackers, and they’re at the front of a powerful offensive attack that is averaging 11 goals per game.
So what is known at this point? Put a good offense and a good defense together, and you have yourself a pretty good team. And there is no question about it: this is a pretty good team. Good enough that they’re starting to make some noise across the state and even the country. The Philadelphia Inquirer recently called them the best spring sports team in the entire greater Philadelphia area. The Pioneers are currently alone at #1 in the state.
But at the same time, numbers are just those: numbers. The team knows that they are not invincible, and they are well aware of what is in front of them and what has to be done.
“As a team, we enjoy getting the recognition of being number one in the state, but we don’t let it get to our heads,” Mita said. “The numbers don’t mean anything until the end of the year. Our approach is to take each game one at a time and to try to keep on playing our best.”
Rather than being ranked #1 in April, they are all much more concerned with being the #1 ranked team at the end of the year while holding up the state championship trophy. With what appears to be the most dominant team in the state, is it “state championship or bust” for the group this year?
“I don’t know if I like [that phrase], but obviously our goal is to win a state championship,” Mita said.
High expectations? Perhaps. Unrealistic expectations? No. If this team takes its season one game at a time and plays with the levels of talent and intensity that it is capable of, they certainly have what it takes to make a run to the state title.