Downingtown East offense dominates in win over Strath Haven

DOWNINGTOWN – Kallie Gray is aware Downingtown East has one of the top offenses in District 1.

Gray didn’t hide that fact. She even admitted the secret to the Cougars’ success with the ball this season.

“We played with each other for a really long time,’ Gray said. “Our offense has a lot of aggressive players. We know where we are (on the field). It’s important for us to take shots at the top and let our forwards just hit it in.’

Gray led the offensive charge with a goal and an assist in the first half as No. 5 Downingtown East defeated No. 28 Strath Haven 4-0 in the first round of the District 1 Class AAA playoffs at Kottmeyer Stadium Monday.

The win sends the Cougars to the second round of the district playoffs for the second consecutive year. Downingtown East will face No. 12 North Penn, a 1-0 winner over No. 21 Bishop Shanahan, Wednesday, 3:30 p.m. at Kottmeyer Stadium.

Strath Haven was eliminated from the playoffs with the loss.

Downigntown East controlled possession throughout the game, creating many offensive chances. The Cougars had 12 penalty corners to the Panthers 0 and out shot them 21-1.

Despite the dominant effort, the game could have had a much different outcome.

In the fourth minute, Strath Haven’s Katie Capalbo broke through the defense and created a 1-on-1 opportunity with East goalie Laura Narcum.

The shot was the only one Narcum would face on the afternoon, but she deflected it off her right leg to keep the game scoreless.

“That was big,’ said East coach Stephanie Bullock. “Laura has been doing a great job with our goalie coach (Sharon Williams) and that save gave the girls a liitle bit of energy and they fed off of it.’

Jenna Davison was the first to take advantage of that momentum. Davison took a pass from Gray on a penalty corner and put the ball past Strath Haven goalie Caroline Boyd and into the back of the cage to give the Cougars a 1-0 lead in the 14th minute.

East, continuing to control possession, scored later in the half. This time Gray was the recipient of a goal off an assist from Cassie Hunter to give the Cougars a 2-0 lead in the 27th minute.

The goal was Gray’s fourth of the season.

“We came out strong as a team,’ Hunter said. “Controlling possession was definitely the game plan. We were so ready for this game. We didn’t come out with any nerves or anything. We just went out and played.’

East put the finishing touches on the victory when Strath Haven’s defense, which was strong throughout the afternoon, broke down for the first time. Jess Wilcox was there to capitalize on the 1-on-1 opportunity with Boyd to make it 3-0 in the 55th minute.

Isuru Amarasekera added a goal a minute later to give the Cougars a 4-0 lead. The goal was Amarasekera’s 13th of the season, which is tied for third on the team.

As East hosts North Penn in the District 1 Class AAA second round, the Cougars are determined to advance and play for a PIAA berth this season. With their offense, East is in a position to win every game.

“We’re taking this game by game,’ Bullock said. “We don’t know much about North Penn, but we don’t plan to change our strategy and how we play. Hopefully we can come out with another win.’

“We heard about North Penn,’ Hunter said. “I think we can go out there and show them what we got.’

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