In battle of unbeatens, Conestoga gets past Seneca Valley in 4A boys state final

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Friday, November 19, 2021 | 9:35 PM


HERSHEY – Two unbeaten combatants, no matter how good, cannot not both escape a state title game undefeated.

So though Seneca Valley acquitted itself well in the PIAA Class 4A boys soccer finals Friday night, Conestoga came away still unbeaten and as state champions with a 1-0 decision at Hersheypark Stadium.

“We knew we had to play our greatest game to win,” Raider coach George Williams said. “I felt we played our greatest game and still didn’t win.”

The lone goal of the game came 1:20 into the second half. The Pioneers had their first corner kick of the day, taken by Brady Costin. Jayce Tharnish got a touch in the box to get the ball to the back of the net. It was only the second time all season that the Raiders trailed in a game.

“When it went in, we knew those were the kind of goals they score,” Williams said. “We were a little surprised they didn’t get more opportunities like that.”

Seneca Valley (21-1-1) had hoped to counter off of Conestoga’s opportunities, which they did in part.

“We got into their final third a few times and couldn’t get that last push into the net,” Williams said.

The Raiders finished with five shots on goal and three corners. Their last opportunities in the final five minutes went awry when a ball wouldn’t settle for Nathan Prex from 20 yards out and when Maxwell Marcotte’s shot from the top of the box never got through traffic.

Conestoga (26-0) allowed only five goals all season, the last of those more than a month ago.

Each side had one big opportunity to hit the back of the net in a scoreless first half. Conestoga’s Sebastian Tis weaved through the Seneca Valley defenders to set up an open shot in the left side of the box, but Raider goalie Ryan Krumenacker came up and made a kick save. Then, in the last minute of the half, Prex nearly put Seneca Valley up when he got a foot on the ball in front of the goal, but the deflection went over the crossbar.

The Raiders also had a first-half goal called back on an offside call, though the whistle sounded before the shot attempt was even taken.

“It was early enough that you say, if they’re not going to count that one, we’ll just have to get another one,” Williams said.

Even though Seneca Valley never did get that other goal, it was an impressive run for the defending state champions, who beat Neshaminy in last year’s title game. Williams said that despite Friday’s result, this year’s team matched up well with last year’s.

“This year’s team broke a lot of records that last year’s team broke,” Williams said.

The Raiders had a 10-game win streak entering the final, going back to a 2-2 tie with Fox Chapel.

The Pioneers claimed their fifth state title, fourth in the last 11 seasons. They had five shots on goal and two corners.

Krumenacker made four saves. Charlie Smith stopped five for Conestoga.

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