DOWNINGTOWN—Seems like Conestoga and Downingtown West are never satisfied with a mere 60 minutes of field hockey when they get together. Twice last year the Whippets and the Pioneers went into to an extra session, including in the District 1 semi-finals, won by Conestoga.
With the two teams coming into Monday night’s contest at Kauffman Stadium ranked No. 1 and 2 in District 1, Class AAA, it figured to be a reasonable bet that it would be decided with a seven-on-seven again, and it was. This time it was the Whippets (14-0) coming up with a win to stay unbeaten, with a goal from Romea Riccardo spelling the difference in the win over the Pioneers (12-3).
“We just came off an overtime win on Friday, so this was two in a row,” said West coach Liz Bradley. “It’s good to have these kinds of experiences and tests this time of year. We had a lot of opportunities, but we’re hanging back a bit too much with the forward line. We have some work to do, but the defense did a great job tonight, and we were able to do what we had to to get the win.”
Both teams were rock solid defensively all night, and there was no score until late in the first period when the Pioneers converted on a penalty corner, with Kendall McGee grabbing a rebound off the goalie’s pads and punching it in.
Riccardo also had the unenviable task of having to mark Conestoga’s Char deVries, a prolific goal scorer known to make things happen all over the field. But DeVries was held mostly in check, and couldn’t find the back of the cage.
“I know Char well, and I know how good a player she is,” said Riccardo. “She’s really fast and has great stick skills. Even when we had the ball I always made sure I knew where she was in case there was a turnover. It’s great to get to play against her, but it will be better when we get to play together in college at North Carolina”
The score stayed 1-0 until West started making a push in the final ten minutes of the game. Awarded a corner, the Whippets worked the ball in to Riccardo at the top of the circle, who made a little move to shake a defender and let loose with a rocket of a shot to tie it at 1-1 with 8:40 tp play in regulation.
“Our goalie (Caitlyn Coker) had made so many good saves, especially in the first half, I knew we had to get something done on our end,” said Riccardo.
The Pioneers went straight to work in overtime, forcing a pair of corners within the first two minutes, but failed to convert either of them.
“When you get two corners in overtime, you need to win the game,” said Conestoga coach Kerry de Vries. “We are marching right along in the process of growing as a young team. We kept our composure kept it a possession game, and our defenders played really well.”
After the second corner for the Pioneers, West’s Taylor Orsi took the ball down the right sideline, and got the ball into the circle, where the Whippets were awarded a corner of their own. Riccardo took the insert, and put the ball in play, going to the top of the circle to Orsi. Orsi gave it right back to Riccardo, who unleashed a shot to the far side of the cage for the game winner.
“This is a really fun rivalry,” said Orsi. “We’re all friendly with so many of them, even the coach. This was just a fun, thrilling game. Great to come out with the win.”
Conestoga 1 0 0 –1
D West 0 1 1—2
Goals: C—McGee. DW—Riccardo 2
Goalie Saves: Showers ( C ) 4 Coker (DW) 4