Unionville edges Downingtown East in battle of Ches-Mont division leaders

EAST MARLBOROUGH – Tuesday’s cross divisional match-up between Downingtown East and Unionville featured two teams with more in common than their respective places in the Ches-Mont standings.

East entered the night first in the National Division while Unionville sat atop the American.

Both teams have their eyes on deep district playoff runs as well. East ranked first in the District 1 Class AAA power rankings while Unionville ranked second.

Each team looked forward to the challenge their opponent presented, a challenge that hadn’t come often for either team this season.

Finally, both teams had numerous opportunities on Tuesday night, but it was Unionville, with two first half goals, that came out on top, 2-1 in Ches-Mont action at Unionville High School.

“Our defense stepped up in a really big way today,’ said Indians’ coach Beth Lynch. “They haven’t had many tests this season like they did tonight. A great win and a great game to help prepare for the postseason.’

The Cougars, though they were unable to find the back of the cage in the early going, were in control of possession for much of the first ten minutes.

But it was Unionville that got on the board first.

After clearing the ball following a Cougars penalty corner, Carly Hewes lifted a long aerial pass to midfield. Logan Perkins settled it, and shot a ball towards the circle. Both the ball and Erin Matson got behind the Cougars defense, leaving Matson 1-on-1 with East’s Laura Narcum. Matson went right and shot left to the back of the cage to give the Indians a 1-0 lead.

“I knew Logan Was going to send me a great ball and I just had to get to it and convert,’ said Matson. “Once I got 1-on-1 with the goalie, and knew I just had to keep it simple, go to the right and get it in the goal.’

The goal seemed to energize the Indians as they kept the pressure up over the next ten minutes, forcing four penalty corners to the Cougars one.

This time, though, it was East’s turn to steal the momentum back.

Isuru Amarasekera sent a ball into the circle, where Kallie Gray grabbed it and slammed it home to knot the score at 1-1 with 6:50 to play in the half.

Unionville took the lead for good with 3:20 to play in the first half, with Matson assisting on a Claire Donovan score.

The Cougars came back in the second half by attacking the circle, resulting in an 11-2 advantage in penalty corners. East had two corners in the final minute, including one as time expired.

They simply couldn’t convert.

“Second half we had plenty of opportunities, we just couldn’t finish,’ said Cougars’ coach Stephanie Bullock. “Our transition game wasn’t as clean as it had been, and we just couldn’t finish.’

No small part of the inability to finish was due to the strong play in the cage from Unionville goalie Sara O’Neill, who finished the evening with six saves.

“They had a lot of corners, but once we got it over the 50, we had a lot of good give and go passes,’ said O’Neill. “This was a huge win. All we wanted to do was get to this game and start gearing up for the postseason. Once you hit the postseason, all the games are going to be tight, so you’ve got to be ready to step it up. Games like this help.’

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