RADNOR — Two of the last three times La Salle and Conestoga Highs met on a lacrosse field, nothing less than the state championship was at stake.
That was not the case Saturday afternoon when two of the area's most successful programs tangled on the artificial surface of Radnor High School.
Instead of Hershey Stadium, it was a non-league meeting in the 14th annual Katie Samson Lacrosse Festival.
And while the state-level intensity was still present, all Conestoga's 10-8 win demonstrated to this year's Explorers is that they still have a ways to go.
"It was fun, but we didn't play very well today,' said Explorers head coach Bill Leahy. "Credit Conestoga, they played better than us, they played stronger in every important area.
"We competed well, but we did a lot of things to hurt ourselves.'
Strangely, Leahy said, his club practiced at a high level all week.
"We just have to click,' Leahy said. "We looked great all week in practice and we're happy with our progress in practice. But it didn't carry over into today.'
La Salle got goals from Michael Soufleris and Chris Hladszek sandwiched around a tally from Conestoga's Jake Scott to take a 2-1 lead after one.
But the Pioneers found another gear in the second period, and led by a pair of goals from Jack Robbins, took a 5-3 lead into halftime.
"The one thing we talked about this week was playing our system,' said Explorers defender Nick Buckley, "and we kind of abandoned the system today.
"We knew they wanted to feed (Scott) inside, and we felt it was going to be a good battle. But we got outworked.'
La Salle spent the third period trying to catch up, and did so when Adam Kerrigan and Steve Hudak scored less than 2:00 apart in the second half of the period.
But La Salle's celebration lasted just seven seconds, the time it took for the Pioneers' Christian Jobs to win the ensuing draw, bolt down the field and score.
And the Explorers would not catch up a second time.
Robbins and Scott pushed Conestoga to an 8-5 lead just 2:30 into the fourth quarter, and the Explorers would not get closer than two goals the rest of the way.
Scott and Robbins would stretch the Conestoga lead to 10-6 before Soufleris and Kerrigan polished off the scoring in the quarter's final half-minute.
"Year in and year out, they have a good program,' Buckley said of Conestoga. "You have to give them credit.'
As for Leahy, he's hoping what he sees on the practice field can carry over to game conditions.
"That's the next challenge,' he said.