Downingtown East waltzes past Spring-Ford

Downingtown — Coming into their first-round District 1 playoff game against Spring-Ford, Downingtown East had lost two straight, and three of its last five. A meeting was called to rectify the situation, and the message was received loud and clear.

The No. 15 seed Cougars dismantled the No. 18 Rams, 11-5, at DiSerafino Stadium on Tuesday evening and advance to the second round to place second-seeded Radnor on Thursday.

“Practice yesterday (Monday) we all sat down and talked about how this is where it really counts, senior captain Abby Savidge said. “We all need to put everything we have into every single game and play with heart. In the playoffs it comes down to what team wants it more. That meeting really gave us momentum in today’s game.’

Downingtown East (12-6) hit the ground running, recording the first five shots of the game. A minute and a half into play, Becca Gilpin made it 1-0 when she curled around the left post and placed a shot right over Spring-Ford’s goalie Kamille Ward.

They peppered Ward for the first seven minutes but were unable to add to their lead. At one point Cougars’ coach Christa Somits yelled out, “You’re shooting in the same spot each time.’

The Rams (13-6) had very limited chances all game but they made most of their opportunities early on. Anja Sweeney made a sharp pass to Brianna Cirino who buried the shot, tying the game at 1-1.

It was on the ensuing draw that East midfielder Tori Barretta caught fire. She broke the tie after she came up with the ball just in front of the Rams net. She quickly corralled it and flipped it over Ward’s shoulder.

She was just getting started. After a Courtney Veisberg goal notched the game back at 2-2, the sophomore struck again.

Barretta scored on an eight meter, two minutes later that gave the home team the lead for good, and jump-started a 9-3 run.

She finished with a game-high six goals, and picked up her 72nd goal of the season and 126th of her career.

“You just need to take chances and drive,’ Barretta said. “I know that if it’s not there I always have my teammates there to send the ball back out to. They’re always there for me so it’s great that I am able to take those chances.’

Three more goals by Barretta, one by Hannah Wurzel and one by Sarah Kollhoff made the halftime score 8-2.

“The philosophy with playoffs is, if you want to win you need to come out and want it more than the other team,’ Somits said. “It doesn’t matter who you play. We knew that if we wanted to win today we had to come out strong and want it more.’

The second half proved to be a run-out-the clock style game.

For East’s goalie Emily Robinson it was her first career postseason victory.

“I just needed to stay focused, take a deep breath and relax,’ said Robinson, who finished with seven saves.

She finished with seven saves.

Radnor will present them with a stiffer challenge. The Red Raiders have won 13 straight. Their only loss of the season came against top-seeded Conestoga.

“It’s going to be really good competition,’ Kollhoff said. “We’re really excited to play them and look forward to the challenge.’

The Cougars will be an underdog going into the matchup, but if there is a program that has had a knack pulling off upsets, it’s Downingtown East. They handed Archbishop Carroll its only loss of the season back in April, and last season, they beat Harriton, who made it to the quarterfinals of the PIAA playoffs.

“We seem to be notorious for taking down really tough teams. It’s going to be fun and I think we’re all excited to go after them,’ Savidge said.

For the Rams, Tuesday’s loss was only their second in 13 games.

“We had a great team,’ coach Amy Short said. “The way they were put together, they seemed like they worked really well. Postseason is hard. We had a week layover between the regular season and the playoffs and I thought that hurt us. Unfortunately we weren’t able to get the job done today.

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