For all the horrors that the Radnor defense gave Conestoga Saturday afternoon, it’s fitting that Casey Ott reaches for a horror movie to explain how they did it.
“We’ve always seemed to be able to work together,” Ott said. “Have you ever seen the movie, The Shining, where they can telepathically communicate? That’s kind of what we have, where we all have each other’s back, we all know what’s going on and we can really use that to work as a whole.”
Whatever wavelength they were on, it frustrated the Pioneers in the way few defenses do, Radnor winning its 11th consecutive game, 11-7, in a battle of Central League front-runners.
Ott was one of many on a Radnor defense that rotates six deep. The headliner is Grant Pierce (Fairfield commit), who plays a heavy game and has the athleticism to cover ground. But the chemistry allows them to be, as Ott puts it, so much more than “a one-man show.”
Ott, a senior, is joined by classmates Pierce, Reece Evans and Will Gallagher, a junior who like Pierce plays for Big 4 HHH. That foursome is supplemented by senior Carson Smith (Washington College) and junior Thomas Barton. There’s little drop-off in the rotation, hence the ability to flummox Conestoga.
“It really is awesome because it brings on a lot of competition, which I think is always beneficial to get the best out of everyone,” Ott said of the depth. “And it’s also nice that we don’t have to run out of breath or die. There’s always someone who can do a job with us and help us out.”
A Frustrating Day for Stoga
The big consequence for the Pioneers was too little of the ball. Despite Ian Kim (Baltimore Crabs) going 13-for-22 on draws, too many of Conestoga’s possessions were one-and-dones. The Pioneers outshot Radnor, 28-25, but they posed too few sustained threats.
Radnor goalie Robert Hobbs (Bowdoin) came up with three big saves in the first quarter and finished with six denials, but he wasn’t called on to make a save in the middle two quarters. Too many shots were wide of the cage, and one of the little things Radnor does well with its fresh defensive corps is cover shots to recover possession.
“We worked in practice a lot making sure we could control the game today, and we didn’t really come out like that,” Conestoga midfielder and Marquette commit Peter Detwiler said. “We had a lot of short possessions, and we would just go right back on defense and it really tired our defense and hurt us a lot. Against a team like this who can hold the ball for two, three minutes at a time, that was something we really needed to do, and it really hurt us today.”
All seven of Conestoga’s goals were unassisted, though one owed to a long outlet pass by goalie Patrick Jamieson. Patrick Reilly (Crabs)and Aidan Kelly (Big 4 HHH / Syracuse) scored twice each, but always on solo sorties to the cage in which they absorbed punishment to get shots off.
“I’d say once we kind of get set into a 6-v-6 defensive possession, we’re all able to settle down,” Ott said. “That gets it going for me, like, ‘OK we can do this, we’re all here together.’ That’s what settles it in for me, being able to play settled defense.”
Radnor’s Offense in Full Flight
Radnor’s attack was the antithesis, moving the ball well and sustaining possessions. Ryan Goldstein (Cornell) was the orchestrator with three goals and three assists. Damien Ramondo (High Point) added two goals and two helpers. Charlie Bernicker supplied a pair of goals, and Chris Begier (Bucknell) tallied a goal and two assists.
Goldstein opened the scoring three minutes in with his signature blend of agility and speed, shaking a defender at X, curling around the cage and burying a high one-hander past Jamieson. Reilly’s second goal tied it at three with 4:12 left in the first half. But in a game that typified the “they wanted it more” aspect, Begier scooped a GB near the bench on a busted possession and hit Goldstein in the slot for a goal. Eleven seconds later, a Tommy Hannum faceoff win tic-tac-toed from Goldstein to Raimondo for a top-corner rip that put Radnor up 5-3 at half.
Raimondo stepped up late in the third quarter, setting up Nick Lucchesi (Air Force) for a howitzer from the wing just after a man-up elapsed, then he set up Goldstein in transition to send the teams to the final quarter with Radnor up 10-5.
It also earned Radnor bragging rights in the neighborhood battle.
“It’s really insane,” Ott said. “We know that Stoga is always a really well-coached team and they’re a bunch of really good guys, too. But we all like to compete. It’s all about getting into the moment and knowing it’s going to be a battle the whole way through.”
Standouts from Radnor-Conestoga
Ryan Goldstein ’22, attack, Radnor / Mesa / Cornell
Goldstein was the difference between the teams: Where Conestoga’s attack is heavy on contributions from midfielders, they lack a facilitator in attack like Goldstein. The junior can work magic from his office behind the cage, whether it’s hitting cutters with passes or shaking defenders with his strong footwork to open a sliver of space for explosive, quick-handed moves on the crease.
Peter Detwiler ’22, midfield, Conestoga / PA Roughriders / Marquette (Highlights)
An uber-athletic midfielder, Detwiler runs himself into the ground for his team at both ends. He scored once and was denied by sensational saves by Robert Hobbs on two other occasions. The junior has great stick skills, a lethal dodge and a great blend of physicality and speed. His sense of the game and ability to contribute at both ends of the field makes him a gamechanger.
Ian Kim ’22, faceoff midfield, Conestoga / Baltimore Crabs (Highlights)
Kim controlled matters at the X, winning 13 of 22 faceoffs. He also scored in the third quarter, just after Radnor took a three-goal lead for the first time, in an attempt to restart momentum for the Pioneers. Kim has a great ability to win the draw forward and launch the attack.
Mark McKeon ’21, defensive midfielder, Radnor
The defensive middie is the kind of underappreciated workhorse that makes a good team so good. He started the day with a caused turnover and groundball to end the Pioneers’ first possession. His tenacity fits perfectly with the Radnor defensive corps, and McKeon’s the one who absorbs all the punishment in transition to get possession in the box. On a day where Conestoga was too loose in possession, McKeon was the exact opposite.
Grant Pierce ’21, defense, Radnor / Big 4 HHH / Fairfield (Highlights)
Each defenseman had their turn to make big plays, but Pierce sets the tone. He’s so smart in when and how he chooses to pressure the ball. (For all its aggressive defense, Radnor wasn’t flagged once.) He’s excellent on the ground and has a heavy stick check that, coupled with his mobility and athleticism, allows him to cover so much ground. The Fairfield commit is one of those defenders that, in a good system, makes everyone around him better.
RADNOR 11, CONESTOGA 7
Conestoga 1 2 2 2 – 7
Radnor 2 3 5 1 – 11
Patrick Reilly 2 goals
Aidan Kelly 2 goals
Chase Kelly 1 goal
Peter Detwiler 1 goal
Ian Kim 1g, 13-for-22 faceoffs
Patrick Jamieson 7 saves
Ryan Goldstein 3 goals, 3 assists
Damien Raimondo 2 goals, 2 assists
Chris Begier 1 goal, 2 assists
Charlie Bernicker 2 goals
Colin French 1 goal
Drew Cox 1 goal
Nick Lucchesi 1 goal
Mason Brown 7-for-13 faceoffs
Robert Hobbs 5 saves