Big second half carries Downingtown East past Downingtown West

DOWNINGTOWN — Five unanswered goals to open the second half is just what Downingtown East needed to pick up the 11-7 Ches-Mont League victory over cross-town rival Downingtown West at DiSerafino Stadium on Thursday evening.

It was a neck-and-neck battle for the first 25 minutes of the contest. Tori Barretta put the Cougars (3-1 Ches-Mont, 5-2 overall) on the board first when she received a beautiful pass from Becca Gilpin. Barretta streaked through the crease and scored her first of four goals.

After Ryan McKinney tied the game 1-1 for the Whippets, Barretta struck again. This time, the sophomore threw a bouncing shot on an 8-meter penalty that skipped past goalie McKenzie Miller.

“I just kept driving, Barretta said. “The opportunities were there and I knew if I didn’t score, someone else would be open. We did some give and go plays and things were there for us.’

Shannon Callaghan’s goal made it 3-1, but the Whippets (2-4, 2-5) responded.

McKinney scored on an 8-meter penalty shot, and then made a fabulous pass to a cutting Avery Kelly to tie the game at 3-3.

“I just tried to keep the energy up for our team,’ McKinney said. “We fell down so I knew I had to do something to get the energy back. Whether it is scoring, or getting ball possession, it is the little things that can make a big difference.’

Each team scored one more time, leaving it a 4-4 tie at halftime.

The Cougars controlled the pace for the majority of the first half but struggled to capitalize on the scoreboard. At one point Cougars coach Christa Somits yelled “Smart passes! Smart passes!’ The team seemed to be a bit overexcited.

“The adrenaline is always huge for these games,’ Somits said. “I think another part of it is confidence. We just needed to relax.’

After losing their previous game to West Chester Henderson, winning this one was crucial. If they were going to do that they knew they needed to come out with a spark in the second half.

“As a team we talked about picking the intensity up at halftime,’ Somits said. “The focus was to play a complete 25 minutes. They put together a good team effort.’

Along with Barretta, the Downingtown East seniors helped regain order in the second half.

Senior captain Sarah Kollhoff broke the tie 90 seconds into the final frame when she scored her first of three goals on a low shot that went right under Miller’s stick.

Senior Abby Savidge, another captain, made it 6-4 when she curled around the crease and deposited a goal in the top right corner.

The Cougars scored five unanswered goals in a stretch of 12 minutes.

“Our captains really helped us. They told us at halftime that this game was huge and we could not lose,’ Barretta said.

Kollhoff and Barretta combined for five of their teams seven second-half goals.

Another key reason the Cougars had success was because they had two key players, Olivia Orris and Elise Person, return from injuries.

“We have been losing players all season. We’ve had to fill people in and constantly make adjustments but we practice hard every day so everyone is prepared. It is really nice to have people back though,’ Kollhoff said.

East has now beat their rivals six out of the past seven years.

“This is always a huge win,’ Somits said. “One, it is a rivalry game, and two we lost to Henderson so to get back on track was great for us.’

On Saturday they host nonleague opponent Harriton, and then continue Ches-Mont play on Tuesday at home against Avon Grove.

The Whippets’ second-half collapse made their road to the District 1 playoffs even steeper. With their next three Ches-Mont games being against Bishop Shanahan, Avon Grove, and West Chester Rustin, wins will be absolutely mandatory for their postseason resume.

“After the game we talked about the road ahead and I told them that these next three games are must wins. We don’t have a choice,’ Whippets coach Britney Long said. “I think for these girls this challenge is good for them moving forward. We need to put this game behind us and look ahead.’

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