Westtown >> After winning its first two games of the season, West Chester Rustin hit a bump in the road early in its Ches-Mont opener Thursday afternoon against Downingtown West. The Whippets, coming downfield on one well-coordinated drive after another, kept controlling the ball deep in Rustin territory and led 5-1 midway through the first half.
That bump proved to be temporary for the host Golden Knights (3-0), who held the visitors scoreless for the next 25 minutes, put together an 11-1 run of their own, and earned a 13-8 win in front of the chilled home crowd.
Rustin’s red-hot 11-1 run included a trio of goals from sophomore attack Ashley Chisholm in the final three minutes of the first half. Chisholm, who has been one of the Golden Knights’ leading scorers in Rustin’s first three contests, finished with a game-high four goals (and six draw controls).
Rustin’s other top scorer, senior midfielder Skyler Demis, who scored five goals in the Golden Knights’ 13-3 win against Council Rock North Tuesday night, tallied three times against Downingtown West.
Freshman midfielder Jess Ciarrocchi tallied three goals for the winners, while senior attack Michelle Chessock scored twice for the Golden Knights.
“After we fell behind 5-1, we started to move the ball around better and score,” said West Chester Rustin head coach Mike St. Clair. “Offensively, we spread out and everyone shared the ball. While it was a team effort offensively. Skyler’s leadership and [overall] play today was key for us.”
Demis scored the Golden Knights’ first goal (unassisted) with 22:08 left in the first half to tie the score at 1-1 before Downingtown West went on its 4-0 run. Within 35 seconds, sophomore middies Corinne Bednarik and Peyton Mottice scored to make it 3-1; then one minute later, attack Olivia DiGiorgio scored after a nice pass from attack Emily Feeney to make it 4-1 with 19:57 to go.
Downingtown West senior defensive middie Drew McKinney’s unassisted goal at 16:29 made it 5-1, but it was the Whippets’ last goal for the next 25 minutes.
“Maddie [Rustin goalie Maddie Montebianco] made a lot of big saves for us early, then our defense began to stop Downingtown’s drives,” said St. Clair. “Carly Liberatore and Elise Krikorian led the way defensively for us.
“We started off slowly today, but the momentum started to change once we started controlling the draw controls and ground balls.”
Chisholm had six draw controls for Rustin, while Liberatore and Ciarrocchi combined to scoop up seven ground balls.
Rustin began its comeback when Ciarrocchi scored back-to-back unassisted goals. After junior midfielder Tina St. Clair scored to make it 5-4 with 9:29 left in the half, Downingtown West called time out.
With 2:47 to go before halftime, Chisholm tied the game at 5-5 with an assist from Tina St. Clair. Chisholm tallied twice more in the final minute of the half, including a shot that found the mark with 0.6 seconds left before halftime to give the hosts an 8-5 lead.
Downingtown East head coach Brittney Conzentino said, “We played an all-around good first half, we just need to learn to close games out. We have a young team, with maturing players who are learning to be patient and trust one another. We were winning draw controls when we went ahead 5-1, but sometimes [inexperienced] teams that don’t win a couple of draw controls tend to panic.”
Rustin continued its momentum after halftime, as Demis scored an unassisted goal just 38 seconds into the second half. Bednarik (who had a hat trick for Downingtown West) ended the Whippets’ 25-minute scoring drought with an unassisted goal at 16:03 to make it 9-6, but then Chisholm, Ciarrocchi and Demis each scored in a three-minute sequence to give the hosts a comfortable 12-6 lead that held up until six minutes were left.
For Downingtown West, Mottice finished the game with two goals and four ground balls. Drew McKinney also scored two goals.
West Chester Rustin 13, Downingtown West 8
Downingtown West 5 3 – 8
West Chester Rustin 8 5 – 13
Downingtown West goals: Bednarik 3, McKinney 2, DiGiorgio, Mottice 2.
West Chester Rustin goals: Chisholm 4, Demis 3, Ciarrocchi 3, St. Clair, Chessock 2.
Goalie saves: Clemson (DW) 2, Phillips (DW) 2, Montebianco (WCR) 7.