Donovan’s game-winner lifts Unionville in overtime

DOWNINGTOWN >> No. 1 versus No. 2 in the District 1 Class AAA power rankings. Unbeaten versus unbeaten.  Ches-Mont National leader against Ches-Mont American leader.
This matchup was about as a highly anticipated field hockey game on the schedule; one both teams had circled on their calendars, probably going back to preseason.
Monday night’s cross-divisional match-up between Downingtown East and Unionville more than lived up to the hype, with the game coming down to a 7-on-7 overtime period to determine the winner.
Claire Donovan finally brought the game to an end with a goal with just 5:33 left to play in the extra period to give the Indians (10-0 league, 13-0) a 2-1 victory over the Cougars (9-1, 12-1).
“That was as much fun as I’ve had playing field hockey in a long time,” said Donovan. “We never gave up, even after we fell behind. I knew we could do it. We all knew this was going to be great competition because we know each other so well. We just gave it everything we had.”
There was a bit of controversy just before Donovan’s heroics. Erin Matson took a shot and went tumbling to the ground.  The initial call was for a penalty stroke, but after a conference, the stroke call was rescinded and the Indians were awarded a corner try.
After East goalie Claire Riley rejected a succession of shots, Donovan was finally able to grab a hold of a deflection and slipped it past Riley for the game-winner.
“We knew that if we just kept pushing, one of us would get it in, or at least force another corner,” said Donovan.
The Indians were first on the board, with Devon Godek finding the back of the cage with 12:47 to play in a very evenly played first half. The half ended with the score still 1-0, and the two teams almost dead even statistically.  Key for the Cougars was keeping Unionville star Erin Matson mostly in check, and off the board.
“Claire (Webb) and Cassie (Hunter) played really well,” said East coach Stephanie Bullock. “We talked before the game to keep the way we’ve played all season as a unit, but when we could, double up on Matson, and they did a nice job of that.”
East tied it 1-1 four minutes into the second period, when Kallie Gray took a pass from Jenna Davison and rifled in a shot from near the top of the circle. Ten minutes later on a penalty corner, Webb crossed a ball to Elizabeth Farrell, who lofted a shot over Unionville goalie Lizzy Gaebel to put the Cougars up 2-1.
With time ticking down under ten minutes, Matson began to take charge of the Indians offense, air dribbling her way for good chunks of the field, and controlling possession. She finally made her mark on the game in a big way, notching the equalizer on a top shelf bullet to tie the game at2-2.
“I honestly don’t remember that much about the goal or how it came,” said Matson. “It was just a time of focus and just do it. I knew we’d been lacking in our offense a bit, and I knew that we needed to take advantage of the possessions we got.  I think we all really stepped things up and played well as a team today, and we’re all excited about the win.”
But though both teams had opportunities (Unionville forced a corner with less than 20-seconds to play in regulation), the game went to overtime. Perhaps fittingly for two teams that just might see each other again with a district championship on the line.
“I definitely think that’s a good possibility,” said Matson of a future match-up. “We have a lot of games to play before then, and we can only take things one game at a time. But these are two very good teams. We all play together outside of high school. We know how they play, and they know how we play. It’ll be another battle if it happens.”
Unionville stays unbeaten and will more than likely be the No. 1 seed come playoff time. But the Cougars, with just one loss, could still be the No. 2 team.
“I don’t think I’d do anything differently,” said Bullock of a potential rematch. “Everyone stepped up and played well.  They left everything on the field. There were some calls that didn’t go our way that might have had an effect, but overall, I’m really proud of the way this team played tonight.”

Unionville 3, Downingtown East 2
Unionville  1  1  1 — 3
Downingtown East        0  2  0 — 2
Unionville goals: Godek, Matson, Donovan
Downingtown East goals: Gray, Farrell
Goalie Saves: Gaebel (U) 5, Riley (DE) 7

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