ALLENTOWN >> Parkland forward Ava Schaller had a frustrating halftime after flashing her shot wide on a breakaway in the final 10 seconds of the first half Tuesday night in a PIAA Class 4A playoff first round match against Downingtown East.
The junior had next to no wait on making amends once the game resumed.
Schaller fired home a rebound in the first minute of the second half and teammate Zoe Schutter scored a game-sealing goal in the final two minutes as District 11 champion Parkland advanced over Downingtown East 2-0 at J. Birney Crum Stadium in Allentown.
“With six seconds to go in the half, she had that duck that she missed,” Parkland coach Al Haddad said of Schaller. “She was really down on herself a little bit. We did everything we could to pump them up a little bit and a minute in she got the first one that the team needed.”
Final: Parkland 2, Downingtown East 0, PIAA 4A girls soccer. pic.twitter.com/UOvBrudR3F
— Austin Hertzog (@AustinHertzog) November 6, 2018
Parkland (23-2) advanced to meet Pennridge, an 8-0 winner over Central, on Saturday in a quarterfinal at a site and time to be determined.
Downingtown East capped its season 17-6 with a return to the PIAA playoffs after a one-year hiatus. The Cougars were the fifth-place finishers in District 1 after downing defending champion Pennsbury in the fifth-place game.
“We had a fantastic season and a great group of seniors,” East head coach Craig Reed said. “We knew we were coming in against a really good team. We were dangerous early and created a lot of chances and had a lot of corner kicks but they defended well.
“Some of those early chances, if we could’ve put one away maybe it would’ve been different. Sometimes it’s not your day but I’m really proud of them.”
East looked the better side early and had four shots and a series of corners before Parkland had really gotten forward. But the Trojans grew into the game and started winning the midfield battles. Downingtown East goalkeeper Ashley Buchheit (six saves) came up big on a couple chances in the first half, a Schutter breakaway and then made an excellent save on a wide-open blast from Schutter from close range with 9:10 before half.
Parkland’s quick goal in the second half came from Ava Hanna’s cross from the left that was parried by Buchheit, but was picked up by Schaller and netted with the keeper recovering.
Downingtown East’s reaction was not immediate, but it came in a strong 10-plus minute span midway through the second half with scoring chances coming from Emily Buckner’s free kick from distance, a fizzing Livi Lawton shot and a nearly-amazing backheel shot from Rebekah March, all saved by Teresa Gonzalez (five saves in second half).
East believed the leveler was coming.
“We play a really tough schedule all year. There’s been a couple games we’ve had to come from behind so we never panic,” Reed said. ‘We figured it would be a deflection or a corner kick or a goal around the box or something that skips on the turf.”
But it never came for the Cougars.
Downingtown East will say goodbye to a senior class that includes Eliza Trasatti, Olivia Vivirito, Emily Wurzel, Lawton and Maddie Eckels.
“I would say it started with our senior leadership and them as quality players and hard workers,” Reed said. “We just got better and better as the season went on. Our first goal was to win the Ches-Mont, after we did that we wanted to try to get into states and make a run at it.
“We came up a little short today, but all the way through the roster, the work ethic and attitude from the kids has been excellent, but especially from the seniors.”
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