Westtown – For the fans who sat in the cold, windy stadium in Westtown, they were treated with an absolutely thrilling finish between No. 10 West Chester Rustin and No. 22 Downingtown East.
Just like their regular season meeting, the Golden Knights defeated the Cougars 2-1, only this time the win was good enough to advance them into the second round of the District 1 Class AAA boys soccer playoffs.
In what proved to be a very physical contest, Rustin was able to use their speed, and chemistry to control the momentum.
Nine minutes into the game, senior captain Ryan Fincher passed the ball to a streaking Dane Andersson to break past the Cougars’ defense. Andersson took care of the rest, beating East goaltender Davis Alliger, giving the Golden Knights the early 1-0 advantage.
After back and forth play, the 1-0 Rustin lead stood as the teams broke for halftime.
In the second half, Rustin came out with aggression, and continued to test Alliger. Downingtown East’s goalie stood strong all evening, making 14 saves. Later in the game, his teammates rewarded his efforts.
With just under 14 minutes remaining, sophomore Mitchell Gill, fired a shot from 15 yards deep and to the right of the net, equalizing the game at 1-1.
The Cougars goal did not phase the home team in the slightest. If anything it fueled their offensive attack.
The Golden Knights poured on the pressure, and as a result junior Chris Boyd put his team back on top with under five minutes remaining.
From 40 yards away, Boyd collected himself, corralled the ball, and fired it past Alliger. The goal was good enough to stand as the game-winner.
“I took the ball and balanced it on my left foot,’ Boyd said. “That is where I like to have it, and then I just saw the shot and I took it.’
Head coach Ryan Castle told his team that they would be challenged in the playoffs, and when times became tough, they had to dig deep and come through.
“I told the boys that you are going to hit bumps along the way,’ Castle said. “That is just the nature of the beast of the playoffs. But they have come back from things like this all season. I knew they could do it, and they knew they could do it. I am so proud of their efforts tonight.’
Downingtown East’s season came to an end on Thursday evening, but head coach Tom Creighton felt that his team made some excellent strides this year.
“I think this class of seniors set the bar for what is expected. This is the first time this group of boys have made it to the District 1 playoffs. I think it says a lot about our leadership, and work ethic. Hopefully the younger guys can learn from this great group of seniors and follow what they accomplished,’ Creighton said.
With the victory, the Golden Knights will turn around and go on the road to face No. 7 North Penn on Saturday.
“We have to forget about this,’ Boyd said. “Whatever happened tonight does not matter now. We need to turn around and get ready for our next game, which is North Penn.’