DOWNINGTOWN—It’s always an exciting atmosphere when Downingtown East and Downingtown West square off. But it isn’t every day that the two schools run into each other with a state tournament berth on the line.
Tuesday night at Kottmeyer Stadium, the No. 6 Whippets squared off against the No, 10 Cougars in a District 1, Class AAA play back bracket game, with the winner guaranteed the top six finish that would mean advancement to the PIAA championship tourney.
Though the game was scoreless for much of the first half, once West got rolling, they poured it on, and notched a 6-0 shutout of their crosstown rivals to advance to Friday’s 5/6 consolation game, where the Whippets will host No. 8 Souderton.
“Last game we struggled finishing,” said West coach Steph Bullock. “So it was definitely good to see us scoring today. We’re excited to be going back to states. It’s going to be a little bit harder of a road, but this team still has a lot of hockey left in them. We’re just going to take it one game at a time and see how far we can go.”
Though the Whippets controlled possession for much of the first half, and forced six penalty corners over the first twenty minutes to none for the Cougars, it wasn’t until the sixth when Ciana Riccardo found the back of the cage for a 1-0 lead.
But that goal opened the floodgates, with West putting two more up before halftime. Mia Garber scored unassisted with 1:45 left in the half, and then Riccardo picked up her second goal barely a minute later to put the Whippets up 3-0 at the break.
“That first goal really boosted our confidence,” said Garber. “After that first one, we really just went on a roll. We were getting opportunities, but after that first one went in, we just got more positive and pushed for the win. As a freshman, it is incredible to know that I’m going to get to play in states with these seniors.”
Three more West goals came in the second half, with Riccardo assisting on a goal from Juliana Smyth, then Smyth dishing off to Claudia Jaszczak, and finally Garber finding the back of the cage for the second time.
“We knew East was going to come out looking for blood,” said Smyth. “It was definitely great to put up so many goals. We came out of halftime thinking that we just need to keep scoring. It is a great feeling to know we’re headed back to states. It was a little tough having to beat east to do it, because we all have so many friends over there.”
“We just want to give it our all and get the win Friday,” said Smyth. “Once you hit states, every team is good, so you want to head in playing the best you can play.”
D-Town East 0 0—0
D-Town West 3 3—6
Goals: Riccardo (2), Garber (2), Smyth, Jaszczak
Goalie Saves: Irwin (DE) 11, Ngyuen (DW) none
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