Springfield Delco fends off late Shanahan comeback

WESTTOWN — Number eight versus nine seed postseason contests have the potential to be nailbitters and Thursday’s second round District 1 playoff game between eight-seeded Bishop Shanahan and No. 9 Springfield (Delco) held true to form. It was a roller-coaster battle at Al Kelly Field that ended in a 12-10 Springfield victory.

The Cougars (16-4) will now move on to play top-seeded Conestoga in the quarterfinals at 12:30 p.m. on Saturday at West Chester East.

“Today is a big win especially because it is on the road against the seed in front of us,’ Springfield (Delco) senior Emily Santana said. “This was huge for our confidence and now we are excited to play on Saturday.’

The back of Shanahan’s warmups said, “Fast or Last,’ but its opponent heeded the advice. Springfield scored the game’s first five goals in less than seven minutes.

Bailey O’Brien engineered the hot start. The sophomore scored all three of her goals in the game’s first 100 seconds.

“We were able to pass and move really well,’ O’Brien said. “We picked up on what their defense did and went off of that. We needed to get off to a good start and that carried us throughout the game.’

The scoring started on the opening draw when she received a feed from Santana and fired a low shot past Eagles goalie Christina DeCesaris.

Less than a minute later, Bridget Whitaker made a gorgeous pass to a cutting O’Brien who paused for a split second until DeCesaris moved and then the sophomore flipped it in the net.

O’Brien’s third goal and two tallies from Santana established the 5-0 lead.

Senior Kelci O’Donnell finally got her squad on the board nine minutes into the game when she sprinted past defender Cailyn Gormley and blew a shot right over goalie Julianne Clemens.

“We just had to turn it around and fight,’ O’Donnell said. “We didn’t want our season to end. We had to step up and make plays.’

After a Whitaker goal made it 6-1, the Eagles made a run of their own. They scored six of the games next seven goals and the momentum of the game shifted.

“They have so much character,’ Coach Laura Capuano said. “They gave it everything they had today, they’ve done it all season. They stepped up and gave it their all.’

The momentum swing started when Alex Wendig winged a pass to Maddie Staska who fired it past Clemens before she could react.

Mary Corcoran helped cut the visitors lead to 6-3 when she found the back of the cage on an eight-meter.

Forty seconds after the Cougars made it 7-3, Shannon McFalls answered with an eight-meter goal of her own.

The Eagles struck once before halftime when Alex Wendig scored her first of a Shanahan-high three goals. After the first 25 minutes the Cougars held a 7-5 edge.

Ninety seconds into the final frame Corcoran cut the deficit to one when she weaved around four different defenders and threw a changeup that rolled past a screened Clemens.

The Eagles (16-4) struck again on Wendig’s second goal. O’Donnell had the ball up top on an eight meter and found her open teammate for the slam-dunk goal. The home team erased a five-goal deficit and had all the momentum. Their crowd was electric, and nearly everyone in green and white was jumping and cheering.

After a Springfield timeout, the teams started exchanging goals. Santana scored her teams first goal for the second half on an eight-meter.

Their lead lasted less than two minutes. Cara DiValerio evened the score at 8-8 when she sidestepped in the crease and scored high left.

With 12:06 left in the game, Shanahan captured their first lead of the game. Maddie Staska lobbed a pass to Wendig five yards away from the net. Clemens gambled and tried to intercept the pass but the senior came away with the ball and in one motion spun off of the goalie and deposited the goal in the open cage.

“We started working together more and feeding off of each other,’ Wendig said. “We were making better passes and making them move more on defense.’

Springfield responded immediately. Cailyn Gormley’s only goal of the game was one of the biggest. The junior beat DeCesaris on an eight-meter to tie it at 9-9.

It jump started a 4-0 run that captured the game for the nine seed. Whitaker’s eight-meter goal put them in front for good, but Santana’s final two goals is what put the dagger in the Eagles.

“I think when we were winning the draws that was really the key in this game,’ Santana said. “They had really good defense, we had really good defense. It was just a matter of working the ball around and seeing who could put it in the net.’

They’ll now play a familiar foe in Central League rival Conestoga, whom they lost to, 18-6, less than two weeks ago.

“They’re a really good team,’ coach Keith Broome said. “We have to play a complete game. We’ve proud to be in the quarterfinals but we have to come out strong and attack them. We showed moments the last meeting but it has to be better Saturday.’

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