REFTON–It might take until Tuesday’s state semi-final game for coach Liz Bradley’s heart to stop racing. But with her Whippet field hockey team’s 1-0 nail biter over Lower Dauphin, Downingtown West keeps its unbeaten streak going, and moves on to the PIAA, Class AAA semi-finals.
The Whippets will square off against defending state champ Emmaus, a 1-0 winner over Owen J Roberts, at a site and time to be determined.
“Caitlin Coker and the entire defense stepped up big time for us today,” said Bradley. “They stopped corner after corner after corner. They say that defense wins championships, and today our defense moved us one step closer to one”
Coker was a brick wall in the cage, turning away shot after shot, diving for some, booting others away. During one three minute stretch midway through the second half, Lower Dauphin forced six penalty corners, and came away empty each time. In the end, the Falcons outshot West 12-4. But, thanks to the stellar defensive effort, the Whippets had the only shot that counted.
“Lower Dauphin did a great job of hammering away at us and making us play our defensive game,” said Coker. “Because our offense dominated so much, we don’t have to do that often. This game we got to show what our defense is made of and I am so proud of everyone.”
The two teams were deadlocked in a scoreless tie for the first eleven minutes of action, with both teams getting pressure inside the circle.
West was awarded a corner try with 18:18 showing on the clock. The Whippets worked it in to Romea Riccardo, who sent it forward to Anna Miller. MIller knocked it in for the game’s only score.
“I knew I needed to get it in to give us a lead, but I had no idea that was going to be the only goal,” said Miller. “From watching their defense, I knew I was going to be open on that side. I might not get an open shot, but if I flicked it it could get in.”
Thoughts of a year ago were never far from the minds of the Whippets. It was in the state quarterfinals on the very same turf that the West season ended last year.
“This is where we lost last season, on this field,” said Coker. “So it feels great to get the win and make semi-finals. Make a little more history for our program, too.”
The fact that Lower Dauphin has been a regular at states and lifted a state championship trophy over their heads four years ago was not lost on anyone on the West sideline.
“Getting a win over a team like Lower Dauphin certainly gives us confidence moving forward,” said Bradley. “But we’ve really only got one day to prepare. So we’ve got to watch film, have a great practice Monday, and be ready to go again on Tuesday.
Lower Dauphin 0 0 -0
D-Town West 1 0 –1
Goalie Saves: Thompson (LD) 3 Coker (DW) 12
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