Downingtown West falls 1-0 to Emmaus in foggy state quarterfinal

WHITEHALL—In pretty much any sport, it is helpful to be able to see. Tuesday night at Whitehall-Coplay for the first round state field hockey match between Downingtown West and Emmaus, simply being able to see the other side of the field was often difficult due to fog as thick as pea soup. So difficult, in fact, that the game was delayed for a little over half an hour.

But once play resumed, the District 11 champions Hornets were able to eke out a 1-0 win over the Whippets to advance to Saturday’s quarterfinals.

“It was definitely not ideal conditions,” said West’s acting head coach Brittany Constantino, filling in for the night head coach Steph Bullock and assistant Jeff Riccardo were forced to sit out the game due to a red card from last Friday. “But both teams had to play in it, so there are no excuses.”

To be sure, both teams were forced to play with near zero visibility, but it should also be noted that the lone goal of the game came prior to the delay. Annika Herbine converted a corner for the Hornets just about ten minutes into the game, and then less than five minutes later, the officials halted play.

Once play resumed, the Whippets began to step up their game, especially once the game rolled over into the second half.

Over the first fifteen minutes of the second half, West was controlling possessions and keeping the ball mostly on its offensive half of the field. Ratcheting up the intensity, the Whippets began to exert serious pressure in the circle, forcing six penalty corners over that span.

“We played well tonight,” said Constantino. “We were aggressive, quick to the ball, and we were creating plenty of opportunities.”

Unfortunately, in what has been somewhat of an Achilles’ hell for the Whippets, they were unable to convert on any of the corners, or finish any of those opportunities.

“For whatever reason, that has been an issue for us,” said Constantino. “We’ve struggled all year finishing on corners, and that really hurt us tonight.”

The loss brings the Whippets’ season to an end. But despite falling short in their quest for a return trip to the state title game, West put together a very good season, including winning its second straight Ches-Mont crown.

“My first season here was a good one,” said Bullock by phone. “We had about as tough a schedule as you can imagine, and we played well. The experience against top competition is going to be invaluable for our younger players.”

It also marks the final game for the graduating seniors.

“This has been a great experience to play here,” said senior captain Juliana Smyth. “I’ve made so many close friends, and to get to have coach Riccardo all the way through was great. He helped me so much through all the recruiting and college stuff. I’m really going to miss West.”

Emmaus 1 0 –1
D West 0 0 –0

Goals: Herbine
Goalie Saves: Ngyuen (DW) 6, Nielsen (EM) 5