FURLONG->>The players on the Central Bucks East High School field hockey team needed no reminding.
After the Patriots opened their play-in contest Tuesday against Plymouth Whitemarsh with a quick two-goal lead, head coach Michelle Finegan did not have to remind her team of the fact that it had begun its last game against Downingtown West with the match’s first goal.
The Patriots had learned the hard way that you don’t let up in a playoff game, no matter what the score.
Their lesson learned, the Patriots kept on scoring.
And when the dust settled the Patriots had a decisive 9-1 victory and a berth in the upcoming PIAA Class AAA playoffs.
Whether East will go in as a fifth or sixth seed will depend upon its result against Tuesday night’s winner between Methacton and Council Rock South.
Either way, for the first time in six seasons, East is heading to the state playoffs.
“That wasn’t something I needed to remind them of,” said a smiling Finegan when reminded that her team took no prisoners. “Even when (PW) scored, we came right back and scored very quickly.”
Indeed, after the Colonials Kennedy Reardon had halved the PW deficit after Abbe Butler and Emma Dougherty gave the Patriots a quick 2-0 lead in the game’s first eight minutes, Emma Donnelly scored less than a minute later to restore the two-goal cushion.
Soon after, Cailey Lever got the first of her back-to-back goals, and the Patriots were in the driver’s seat, never to be dislodged.
“When we got up early, it was a good feeling,” said Riley Donnelly, who notched a second-half hat trick when she tallied the first three goals after halftime. “We had (continuing to press the attack) in our heads because teams are so good at this level.
“Even if you’re up a couple of goals, it’s still a close game.”
Chasing a four-goal deficit after the break, the Colonials came out strong at the outset of the second half, but ultimately East just wore them down.
And when Riley Donnelly completed her natural hat trick, the verdict, if it wasn’t sealed already, was in the can.
And the Patriots were in states for the first time in more than a half-decade.
“That’s the best thing about this team,” Finegan said. “A lot of them play club hockey together, and they’re friends.
“They like each other and you can see that in the way they play. Some teams that win year after year get a little bit jaded, but this team grew up together and they’ve gotten better each year.”
First-Half Scoring: 1. East, Abbe Butler (Whitney Dietz), 28:24. 2. East, Emma Donnelly (Abbe Butler), 21:20. 3. Plymouth Whitemarsh, Kennedy Reardon (unassisted), 16:23. 4. East, Emma Donnelly (Cailey Lever), 15:37. 5. East, Cailey Lever (Abbe Butler), 9:02. 6. Cailey Lever (Mackenzie Boyle), 0:13.
Second-Half Scoring: 7. East. Riley Donnelly (unassisted), 18:37. 8. East, Riley Donnelly (Mackenzie Boyle), 15:51. 9. East, Riley Donnelly (Whitney Dietz), 7:20. 10. East, Allison Herbine (Emily Brennan), 4:45.