WEST CHESTER — Eric Beren didn’t feel any pressure with West Chester Henderson hanging on for dear life in the final minutes.
As a goalie, Beren was focused on the task at hand… making the big stop.
“I just did whatever I could to get out in front of the ball,’ Beren said. “I happened to stop two shots there. Just was lucky for me.’
With the Warriors clinging to a two-goal lead over West Chester East in the final minutes, Beren read a counter move by Jack Phelan and stopped his reverse shot for the save. After East got the rebound, he stopped Joe Guarnere’s one-timer and cleared the ball up the field.
Those two saves by Beren were the biggest of his 14 saves on the night as West Chester Henderson held on to a 9-7 win over West Chester East to clinch the Drew Bauer Memorial Trophy at J. Oscar Dicks Stadium Tuesday.
Jack Twohig was the game MVP for the Warriors (1-0 league, 5-1 overall) as they won their seventh straight game over the Vikings, dating back to 2009.
The Vikings (1-1 league, 5-2 overall) have lost two straight since their 5-0 start.
In a game where East had multiple chances to erase an early 3-0 first-quarter deficit, Beren would not allow the Vikings to find an equalizer, turning in one of his best performances of the season.
“When Eric is hot in net, he’s almost unbeatable,’ said East head coach Jim Schorn. “Tonight he was hot.’
“Beren’s huge for us,’ said Henderson’s Noah Richard, who finished with a goal and two assists. “Every game he keeps getting better and better. Those up-close goals could really change a game, but Beren stops them and keeps the momentum. He keeps us in the game.’
Before Beren provided the highlight saves in net, Henderson’s offense was able to give him an early cushion on goals by Joe Saulino, Nick Mascetti and Cody Pascale to put the Warriors up 3-0 with 3:52 left in the first quarter.
“That takes a lot of pressure off from the start,’ Beren said. “If I let in one goal, it doesn’t matter as much.’
Henderson built its lead behind Cody Pascale’s four goals. The final one built the Warriors lead to 9-4 with one minute left in the third quarter. Pascale is tied for third in the Ches-Mont League with 16 goals.
“I wasn’t beating anyone 1-on-1 or anything,’ Pascale said. “We had some other players dodge and my defender slid. I was just hoping for shots from there and they went in.’
After the goal, Schorn called timeout and made a few adjustments for one last East run.
“We changed a few things defensively,’ Schorn said. “We tried to shut Noah Richard down and eliminate him from getting the ball. Same with Nick Rizzo and Cody Pascale. We let our defensemen go out and get the other players.
“We just needed to have successful clears, which haunted us early. When we did, we got our opportunities.’
Phelan scored with 6:12 left to cut the Vikings’ deficit to 9-6. Tom Gormley provided a one-timer to make it 9-7 with 2:33 to play.
After a slashing penalty by Richard with 3:16 left, East had the man up and a chance to make it a one-goal game. That never materialized with Beren making his two biggest saves of the night in the final two minutes.
Once the game was over, Henderson celebrated another huge win over archrival East. There is plenty of work to be done after the Warriors started their Ches-Mont schedule with a win. “It’s good to get off to a good start,’ Beren said. “We got a big one with Bishop Shanahan Thursday, but with the significance of the Drew Bauer Classic, this one was huge.’
NOTES — West Chester East went 5-12 last season. The Vikings have reached five wins already in 2015 with 11 games to play. Their last winning season was in 2009 (16-6).