EAST MARLBOROUGH – It was Senior Night at Unionville, but the underclassmen did all of the scoring as the Indians blanked visiting Bishop Shanahan, 3-0, to get a leg-up in the quest to win another Ches-Mont girls’ soccer title.
“We wanted to make sure we won this game for our seniors,” said junior Julia Capperella. “Usually Senior Night is an easier opponent, but we knew this was going to be a challenge.”
It was, but the final result was quite impressive for Unionville, who is now the lone unbeaten team in the Ches-Mont standings at 10-0 (12-3 overall). The Eagles entered the fray unbeaten and atop the District 1 3A power rankings, but fall to 6-1-1 (11-1-2 overall).
“We knew we could hang with (Unionville), but if you make mistakes against them it’s too much to overcome,” said Shanahan head coach Ken Schmidt. “They are the kind of team where if you give them too much, it really deflates your team and changes the game plan.”
The defending regular season league champs, the Indians – currently eighth in the District 1 4A power rankings – can essentially wrap up another crown with a win on Oct. 15th at once-beaten Downingtown East. Unionville has won seven in a row.
“The race is still tight so we just have to keep winning,” said Indians’ head coach Joe Ratasiewicz.
“This was a good confidence booster. We’ve been playing pretty well but I still don’t think we’ve hit full stride yet.”
More aggressive from the start, Unionville opened a two goal lead and had another prime scoring chance before Bishop Shanahan registered its first shot on goal.
“Our defense has been incredible all season, and we have four seniors who play back there,” Schmidt said. “But (Tuesday) we made a few errors that are uncharacteristic.”
Capperella put Unionville on top about 10 minutes in on a shot that got under the cross bar but over the reach of Eagles’ keeper Jess Gorr.
“I think the shot skimmed the head of a (Shanahan) player and it deflected up and in,” Capperella explained.
“It was Senior Night and our girls were all inspired,” Ratasiewicz added. “We played with a lot of energy, and when you get that first goal it kind of breaks the tension.”
Sophomore Sara Darlington came close to making it 2-0 with a left-footed shot that bounded off the far post midway through the half, but soon thereafter another sophomore, Hayden Wilson, scored on a low blast off a deflection.
The Eagles came out a bit more forcefully for the second half, and worked for three early corner kicks, but were unable to really threaten. And then with 18:19 remaining, Darlington cashed in with a spinning move and shot from a bad angle that still found its mark.
“I did like a step-over and just hit it. I was pretty far into the corner,” Darlington said.
“They have been doing it all season,” Ratasiewicz said when asked about his underclassmen. “We don’t have a lot of seniors this year, and our underclassmen are playing older than their grade, let’s put it that way.”
Shanahan had an 8-3 edge in corner kicks, but thanks to an improving Unionville defensive unit, the Eagles had very few scoring opportunities. Indians’ goaltender, Catherine Clisham, faced just three shots on goal and turned them all aside.
“Offensively, we felt we could put some pressure on (Shanahan),” Ratasiewicz said.
“And I don’t want to jinx anything, but we have been playing well defensively. This group kind of knows each other now and they are communicating better. Plus we have some speed back there, so we can recover when a mistake is made.”
Bishop Shanahan will host 8-1 Downingtown East on Thursday, and the winner is still in the mix. Unionville also has winless Sun Valley to end the regular season.
“We won Ches-Monts last year and we want to keep it going,” Darlington said.
“This win really helps because now we are the only undefeated team in Ches-Monts,” Capperella added.
Unionville 3, Bishop Shanahan 0
Bishop Shanahan 0 0 — 0
Unionville 2 1 — 3
Shanahan goals: none.
Unionville goals: Capperella, Wilson, Darlington.
Goalie saves: Gorr (BS) 6; Clisham (U) 3.
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