WEST GOSHEN—It was cold. It was windy. It rained, and rained hard for the entire second half. It was, in a nutshell, altogether unpleasant. But when that final buzzer rang out, it was nothing but smiles on the Downingtown West sideline.
Thanks to a goal from sophomore forward Tatum Johnson early in the second half, and some fantastic work by the Whippet backs in the late stages of the game, the soggy bus ride home was a happy one, as West (23-0) stayed unbeaten and advanced to the quarterfinal round of the PIAA, Class AAA tournament following a 1-0 win over Manheim Township (15-7).
West moves on for the quarterfinal round this Saturday, Nov 11, when they will face the winner of District 3 runner-up Lower Dauphin and District 7 runner-up North Alleghenny, at a site and time to be determined.
“Very tight game, very close,” said West coach Liz Bradley. “The weather didn’t help, but we didn’t really capitalize on the opportunities we were creating. But a win is a win, and we’re still alive to play Saturday.”
The Whippets had some chances over the course of the first half, forcing half of their eight total corners, and controlled possession much of the way. But nothing was going in, and the game went to halftime scoreless.
And then the rain came. While there was some light rain in the first half, it was mostly just cold. The second half was another story, with hard rain coming down sideways, making for difficult playing conditions.
The game’s first big break came seven minutes into the second half, when Johnson got a ball around midfield, with nothing but green between her and Blue Streak goalie Cat (Catherine) Wilson. Johnson covered the ground quickly, went right, and slipped the ball past Wilson for the only goal West would need.
“I saw the ball coming, and I knew I needed to score to get the win,” said Johnson. “I kind of knew I was going to go right, and just made sure I made the shot. Then we just had to keep going through the cold. I’m not sure I could have made it if we’d gone to overtime.”
While any forward relishes the chance to go one on one with a goalie, for a younger player like Johnson, in a scoreless game in a state tournament, there had to be some pressure felt.“She knew she was able to pull right and get that goal,” said Bradley. “That was a big moment and she came through big for us.”
From that point on, it was all about the West backs. Even though The Streaks ratcheted up their attack and started getting pressure inside the circle, they never got off a single shot on goal, not even on any of their six penalty corners.
“The backs really stepped up big for us today,” said Bradley. “We marked well, and kept their sticks down. We knew they liked to bang the ball through with their strong drives. We did a nice job of anticipating where passes were going to go and intercepting them.”
Manheim Twp 0 0 -0
D-Town West 0 1 -1
Goalie Saves: Wilson (MT) 9, Coker (DW) 0
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