WEST CHESTER -- It was almost inevitable that Saturday's District 1 Class AAA boys soccer quarterfinal match between Conestoga and host West Henderson would end in penalty kicks.
Both defenses were virtual brick walls for the entire game.
When the hard-fought, 0-0 match finally boiled down to that final tiebreaker, there was that same unyielding frame of mind for both goalies.
But Conestoga finally prevailed, 3-2, in the penalty kick phase, and advanced to Wednesday's semifinals against top-seeded Great Valley at a site and time to be announced.
The Pioneers, seeded 20th, also earned a berth in the PIAA Class AAA playoffs.
Henderson, seeded fifth, will host ninth-seeded Bensalem in a playback consolation on Tuesday at 7 p.m. The Warriors must win their next two games to make the state playoffs.
Both goalies were outstanding in every phase of the game on Saturday. Henderson's Todd Morton made a remarkable save to keep the Warriors alive in penalty kicks.
But Conestoga first-year varsity goalie Will Smith had the final say when he stopped Henderson's last penalty kick by Max Zandi.
"We've been practicing penalty kicks,' said Smith, who made two saves during the tense tiebreaker. "I kind of felt he (Zandi) was going that way and I just reacted. I like penalty kicks.'
Conestoga beat Central Bucks East in PKs in its second-round match on Thursday, so the Pioneers had some experience. It was Henderson's first foray into the white-knuckle tiebreaker.
"I guess they were a bit more confident,' said Henderson coach Sean Ryan. "Anything can happen. It's such a roll of the dice.
"Their keeper made some very big saves. Our goalie (Todd Morton) gave us a chance, but we couldn't convert.'
Conestoga's Harrison Moon and Henderson's Anthony Daniele buried their kicks to make it 1-1. After a Conestoga miss, Henderson's Zach Roberts launched a shot that Smith rejected.
Nate Monsell made it 2-1 Conestoga. After a Henderson miss, Conestoga's Mike McDugall scored to give the Pioneers a critical 3-1 advantage.
Tyler McCabe converted for Henderson and closed the gap to 3-2. That's when Morton made his clutch diving save to keep Conestoga from clinching it.
But Smith was equal to the task on Henderson's final kick, and Conestoga advanced. Smith also made a game-saving stop in regulation when he denied Henderson's Jack McCann with 16:39 left in the second half.
"I'm extremely satisfied,' said Conestoga coach Dave Zimmerman. "The kids have worked incredibly hard. This is a good group of guys, and they've played so well as a team.'
The fact Conestoga was seeded 20th was a motivating factor for the players. With a very strong tradition in soccer, the Pioneers knew they had all the ingredients to make a run deep into the playoffs.
Thijs Everts, Mason Sellig, Moon, and Chris Chappelear were defensive standouts for the Pioneers and helped Smith keep Henderson off the board through regulation and overtime.
"Those guys are very important,' said Smith. "They've saved me many times.'
Joey Benzing, Roberts, Vince Feola and Matt Persick were solid along the back line for Henderson. Scott Lorback played a strong game at midfield.
"The boys played extremely well,'' said Ryan, whose team had lost to Conestoga 3-0 during the regular season.
"I'm disappointed for them, but we've put ourselves in a position to have another shot.'
Conestoga 0, W.C. Henderson 0
Conestoga 0 0 0 0 -- 0
W.C. Henderson 0 0 0 0 -- 0
Conestoga wins 3-2 on penalty kicks
Goalie saves: Smith (C) 8; Morton (H) 10.