UWCHLAN >> Jeff Conner couldn’t help but thank all of his teammates for his hot start to the season.
Conner has been the bulk of Strath Haven’s offense this year, but the burden hasn’t been too big for him to handle. Instead, he just keeps on shooting.
“Everyone is doing their job in this offense right now,” Conner said. “They’re setting up the plays and allowing me to work toward my best attributes. At that point, I was just feeling it and the shots were dropping.”
Conner put on a clinic with five goals on the afternoon as Strath Haven rallied from an deficit in the fourth quarter to put Downingtown East away late in a 9-6 nonleague victory at Downingtown East’s upper turf field Tuesday.
The Cougars (1-1) rallied from an early deficit behind Brooks Poli’s three goals, but were unable to maintain control of the lead once they got ahead early in the fourth quarter. East trailed 3-0 late in the first quarter before slowly working its way back into the game.
“We just didn’t show up in the beginning,” said East head coach Todd Cliggett. “Out of 48 minutes, we played 45 of them. You just can’t do that against a team like that.”
Poli was able to get the Cougars back into the game with two goals to cut the deficit to 3-2 before Colin Armburst hit the first equalizer with 8:52 left in the second quarter to tie the game 3-3.
Poli scored his third and final goal with 1:41 left in the second, bringing the score to 4-4 at halftime.
“Obviously, we like to spread the wealth on offense,” Cliggett said. “Brooks put the team on his shoulders and got us back into the game, which is great to see. He’s a very good player.”
— Jeff Kerr (@jeff_kerr) March 29, 2016
Jack Mulcahy finished with two assists on the afternoon for East as the Cougars entered the fourth quarter in a 5-5 deadlock. East earned its first lead on a one-timer by Drew Rafferty with 11:23 left to put the Cougars up 6-5.
From that point, the game belonged to Strath Haven as East’s lead was short-lived.
Conner netted the equalizer to tie the game 6-6 just 20 seconds later, then hit the go-ahead goal with 7:03 left as the Panthers (2-0) took a 7-6 lead. He has nine goals on the season after just two games.
Jack Borbee ended East’s chances at a comeback with two goals in a span of 13 seconds to put Strath Haven up 9-6 with 3:51 to play. Borbee took advantage of Strath Haven winning its last five faceoffs in the game.
“In a close game, we needed those goals,” Borbee said. “As a captain, I wanted to put a little spark up and get the team going. I’m pretty excited about being able to do that.”
After two games, East has some portions of its game to clean up, but has plenty of positives to look toward. Against two tough Central League teams in Springfield-Delco and Strath Haven, the Cougars are 1-1 and could easily be 2-0.
“We have a lot of work to do, but we just have to keep playing hard,” Cliggett said. “I like my team. We got a good group of hard working kids here.”
NOTES >> Downingtown East played the first game in school history on its new turf field. The Cougars previously played home games at DiSerafino Stadium on the campus of Downingtown West. They are scheduled to play five games at East this season and all night games at DiSerafino.
Strath Haven 9, Downingtown East 6
Strath Haven 3 1 1 4- 9
Downingtown East 1 3 1 1- 6
Strath Haven goals: Connor 5, Borbee 2, Huestis, Ross.
Downingtown East goals: Poli 3, Armbrust, Kuhn, Rafferty.
Goalie saves: Brake (SH) 5, Wilson (DE) 14.