WEST CHESTER >> With skill, speed and pressure, West Chester Henderson slowly turned the screws on Council Rock North until the vise was so tight, the Indians’ dreams of reaching the District 1 4A boys soccer final were squeezed out by halftime.
The Warriors received goals from five different players in an impressive display of offensive soccer to post a dominant 5-0 win in the semifinals of the district tournament.
Fourth-seeded Henderson improved to 19-1-1 and will face top-seeded Conestoga in a highly-anticipated final at Great Valley High School on Saturday at 5:30 p.m. The Warriors will make their first appearance in a District 1 final since they won it all in 2004. They will be looking for revenge as the Pioneers gave Henderson its only loss of the season.
“It feels amazing,” said senior Frank DeRosa of reaching the district final. “We wanted to come out to play hard, and play physical. To get the two early goals was great, then to get three more, I don’t think even we thought we get that many off a good team like Council Rock.
“Being in a district final is a great accomplishment in and of itself, we want to go out and make another statement and beat Conestoga.”
The first 10-to-15 minutes were evenly played as both teams probed the defenses in search of the first real good scoring chance.
The Warriors slowly started to see more of the possession and began spending more time in Rock North’s end.
Henderson’s pressure paid off with 18:59 left as Richie Schlentz let loose a throw in from the right sideline that traveled abourt 40 yards into the box. The ball flicked off De Rosa in the mass of bodies, and got past goalie Anthony Caruso for a 1-0 lead.
“This team is capable of great things when they put it all together,” said Henderson coach Sean Ryan. “To win 5-0 against a team like Council Rock North shows what we’re capable of and how we need to keep pushing Saturday and beyond.”
Schlentz’s throw-ins were a constant source of worry for the Indians’ defense.
“We obviously run plays off of it,” said Schlentz. “I try to throw it as high as I can to get it into the box and let my teammates handle their buisness.”
One of Rock North’s best chances came soon after the restart as Seamus Crockett brought down a long ball, beating the defense, but fired over the top of the net.
The lead stood the Warriors again worked down the right side as Kevin Kiefer raced to the end line, then sent a cross that Thomas Caufield latched onto the end of, rifiling a shot inside the left post from about 25 yards out to take a 2-0 advantage with 7:20 left.
“That was a great play by Kevin Kiefer,” said Ryan. “He didn’t give up on the play, drove to the end line, found Tom, who had a great finish.”
The goal of the game came three minutes into the second half. DeRosa drove in a low ball off a corner. An unmarked Jared Matthias dove and directed a header into the net for a 3-0 lead and any hopes of a comeback was rendered just about moot.
Zach Roberts scored off a header with 33 minutes left, then Schlentz capped the scoring with a shot that went past DeRosa and squeezed into the net.
The Warriors held a convincing 18-4 advantage in shots as their pressure didn’t give the Indians a whole lot of time on the ball.
Now, they can concentrate on Conestoga, and the chance to bring another district title to the the Ches-Mont League.
“We have a tough opponent on Saturday who we know well and I’m sure it’s going to be a battle,” said Ryan. “Nobody’s beaten Conestoga this year, and there’s a reason for that, they’re a very good team. We excited to be there, but we’re not just happy to be there. We want to go and win on Saturday.”
W.C. Henderson 5, Council Rock North 0
Council Rock North 0 0 – 0
W.C. Henderson 2 3 – 5
W.C. Henderson goals: Caufield, DeRosa, Matthias, Roberts, Schlentz .
Goalie saves: Caruso (CRN) 4, Mancinelli (CRN) 0; McSwain (WCH) 2.