Uwchlan >> Facing an undefeated West Chester East squad that was 8th in the latest PIAA District 1 4A boys’ soccer rankings, host Downingtown East shut down the visitors, 2-0, Thursday afternoon.
“We had this game circled on the calendar – this was a must-win for us, said Downingtown East senior goalie Dan Good, whose Cougars (6-1) are ranked No. 11 in District 1. “We wanted to set the tempo early, and play as a family. They have a really good striker [Driss Benslimane] and we wanted to make sure he had as few touches as possible, and we wanted to lock it down in the back.”
Downingtown East head coach Tom Creighton knew the defensive challenge the Cougars were facing.
“West Chester East is extremely organized, and extremely well-coached and you know they’re going to come out and play with a hell of a lot of energy – they know how to combine,” said Creighton. “They have a hell of a player in their front-runner in Driss [junior forward Driss Benslimane], a heck of a player in No. 10, Delaney [senior midfielder Benjamin Delaney] and No. 5, Cormac [senior center mid Cormac Dooley].
“To have our two center backs, Brett McCartney and Chris Comber, really work in unison, and Mike Battisti sitting ahead of them, I think they did a heck of a job stepping up when they needed to step. Those three worked in unison to get stuck in, win the tackle, and do what they needed to do. And Nate McCourt did a good job on the flank – a lot of times outside backs are overlooked, but he’s a lockdown corner.”
In the back of the Cougars’ good defense is the West Chester University-bound Good, who recorded six saves.
“Dan Good is the player you want on your team, he’s the kid that every coach wants,” said Creighton. “West Chester University is going to benefit greatly from having him [next year].”
With 3:44 before halftime, Downingtown East senior Zach Delone broke the scoring ice, knocking a header into the net with an assist from Good.
“Dan placed the ball perfectly,” said Delone. “I’ve learned where he places the ball and I’ve learned where I should be in order to get my head on the ball.”
The Cougars tenaciously held onto to their 1-0 lead in the second half, and finally got some breathing room with 1:47 left when Delone re-directed a ball near the Vikings’ goal that freshman Luc Rising knocked in for a 2-0 lead.
Lats spring, Delone was part of the Downingtown East 4×100 relay team that finished second at the PIAA Class AAA state track championships – the quartet of Quran Brown, Delone, Dan Andris and Carmi Stocker posted a time of 41.89, just 0.32 seconds behind first-place finisher Harry S. Truman.
On the soccer field, Delone has been on a scoring binge this season – Monday, he tallied both goals in a 2-0 win against Archbishop Carroll, his eighth and ninth goals of the campaign.
“Zach is a helluva athlete,” said Creighton. “He’s in a zone.”
Over on the West Chester East sideline, Viking head coach Charlie Dodds said, “Dan Good came up with some good saves, and once they scored on us, we’re chasing them. Credit to them – they outworked us, and they finished their chances and we didn’t.
“It’s just one game – we’ve got 12 more games to go. Let’s not talk about the [won-loss] record until the end of the season. Sometimes it’s good to get a loss to see what you’re made of, to come back after it. We’ll see how we come back against Sun Valley Thursday night.”
Likewise, D-East did not want to get too carried away with its shutout victory.
Good said, “We had a huge win against Great Valley in overtime [Sept. 11], and in our next game against Kennett [a 2-1 loss] I don’t think our heads were right, we were still thinking about the Great Valley game. We want to make sure we prepare for Henderson [on Thursday], they have a couple of good players who I know personally. That’s another game that’s circled on the calendar.”
Downingtown East 2, West Chester East 0
West Chester East 0 0 – 0
Downingtown East 1 1 – 2
Goals: Delone, Rising.
Assists: Good, Delone
Goalie saves: Good (DE) 6, Rehrig (WCE) 6.