WEST GOSHEN — It took two periods for Great Valley to solve the riddle of sophomore goaltender Luke Turner, but once things got rolling, three quick goals early in the third gave the Patriots the 4-2 win over Conestoga in non-conference action Monday night.
Playing without some key components in the lineup, Great Valley head coach Ladd Clark had a freshman on each line and being able to pull out the win speaks volumes of his team.
“They’re focused,” he said. “They set goals before the beginning of the season. Their focus is strong this year. Compared to previous years, we didn’t have that type of focus from our group.”
But the young lineup could have something to do with the slow start as Conestoga carried a lot of the play through the first 30 minutes, with Turner coming up with some jaw-dropping saves along the way and took a 1-0 lead into the final frame.
“We got off to a bit of a slow start,” said Great Valley goaltender Andrew Ungvary. “We weren’t really playing our game.”
That all changed, however, in the third period when the Patriots took control of the game in the first handful of minutes.
“I said it was time,” Clark said with a laugh. “We changed our forecheck and we put a little pressure on them and I think they weren’t expecting it. It worked.”
It certainly did as Great Valley came out and in the first 3:28 of the third, junior Casey Funk notched two goals and sophomore Ben Capetola chipped in another to propel the Patriots ahead, 3-1.
“It gives you a little more confidence,” Ungvary said. “Going forward, you have a little bit of a leeway to make a mistake.”
After head coach Mike Graves called a timeout immediately following the third unanswered Patriot goal, Conestoga began to apply pressure once again.
To make things interesting, junior forward Mac Hamblett scored his second of the night with eight minutes left in the game.
“At the end, we were just trying to hang on,” Ungvary said. “It was pretty nerve-wracking.”
Graves pulled Turner in the final minute of the game and despite the multitude of shots from the Pioneers, Ungvary and his team withstood the bombardment and freshman forward Mitchell Bates sealed the win with an empty-net goal with five seconds remaining.
The victory gives Great Valley a 2-0 start, something the team hasn’t seen in some years.
“We have a good group that’s focused on what they’re trying to get done,” Clark said. “They were chasing for two periods and they bared down and got to doing the things they needed to do.”