REFTON >> Emmaus came into Tuesday’s PIAA, Class AAA semi-final as the two-time defending state champs, riding an 81-game winning streak. For the season, they had allowed a mere five goals in 22 games.
Then they played Downingtown West.
The Whippets stayed on their own unbeaten streak, improving to 25-0 on the season, and scoring on the Hornets like no one else, finding the back of the cage three times. West moves on to the first state final game for a Downingtown field hockey team in 29 years, and the first-ever for West, following a 3-1 win over Emmaus.
West will face Penn Manor, the District 3 champ and a 2-0 winner over Hershey Tuesday night, at Whitehall-Coplay, Saturday at 2PM.
“It’s an amazing feeling to know that no team from Downingtown has done it since 1988,” said Taylor Orsi. “Especially being a senior, it’s a great feeling to go out this way. Makes me wish we could keep on advancing to nationals or something.”
While there’s no advancing beyond Saturday, Orsi had her hand in putting her team in the title game as part of the game’s first goal. After the two teams traded corners, West brought the ball cross midfield, and Orsi moved it up to the top of the circle. From there, she sent it towards the cage, and Claudia Jaszczak completed the ball’s trip to the cage for a 1-0 West lead midway through the first.
“Once we get one in, it just gets us going,” said Orsi. “It was definitely nice to get out front. I think we all knew we’d finish strong.”
The first half was about as evenly played as could be, with the teams even in both shots on goal and penalty corners through the first 25 minutes. But after the incredibly reliable Romea Riccardo missed high on a penalty stroke, her teammates picked her up big time. The momentum shifted dramatically to West.
“Romea is such a great player,” said Orsi. “We couldn’t let her get down on herself, and we couldn’t let Emmaus get hyped about the missed shot. So we really stepped it up.”
The rest of the way, West outshot Emmaus 7-3, and forced six corners to just two for the Hornets.
West put the game away with two second half goals, a second from Jaszcak with 22:40 to play, and another from Tatum Johnson two minutes later.
The Hornets lone score came with 6:38 remaining, when Ashlynn Lennon connected on a penalty stroke.
“The girls played great today,” said coach Liz Bradley. “They were connecting well, they stayed wide. It was just a total team effort and the girls just did a fabulous job. We would have liked to get the shutout, but it didn’t happen.”
West will face a formidable opponent in the finals. The Comets are also unbeaten, and currently ranked No. 1 in the country by MaxFieldHockey.com.
“We have to get prepared over the next few days,” said Bradley. “We will be ready, and play to win, but it is an amazing feeling to be 25-0 and be representing the Downingtown community in a state final game.”
Emmaus 0 1 –1
D-West 1 2 -3
Goals: Emmaus—Lennon, West—Jaszczak (2), Johnson
Goalie Saves: Neilson (E) 4, Coker (DW) 6