Pennsbury undone by PK in D-1 quarterfinal loss to Downingtown West

FALLS TWP. – The only shot Downingtown West recorded after Pennsbury deadlocked the District 1-AAA quarterfinal at 1-all was a penalty kick by sophomore Gina Peraino.

The 10th-grader made no mistake however, putting it into the lefthand corner past the outstretched arms of senior keeper Nany Santiago for the winning goal Saturday morning on the Falcons’ home pitch.

Try as it might – and it did; Pennsbury outshot its opponent 15-1 in the second half in this game – the Falcons could not obtain the equalizer before the final gun. For the Whippets, the win earns them their first berth in states since 2012 and sends them to the D-1 semifinals against the winner of the Council Rock North-West Chester Henderson quarterfinal.

For defending D-1 champion Pennsbury, which went to the PIAA quarterfinals last year, it sends the Falcons to the consolation round where they must win the next two games if they are to keep their season alive.

“We were banging on their door,” stated Pennsbury senior Abby Wick. “I think we just had a lot of unlucky moments.

“That ball should have been in the net five times; we should have won that game.”

Downingtown registered just five shots in the playoff pairing to 24 for the Falcons, who outshot the Whippets 9-4 in the first half. Eighteen minutes into the contest however, a defensive lapse led to Downingtown’s first goal, the only strike by either team in the first half. D-West freshman Sydney Amparo crossed a ball from the right side into the goalmouth where classmate Emily Feeney was waiting to poke the ball home for the Whippets’ first lead.

From then on, Pennsbury dominated the field of play, though not the scoreboard. The Falcons created multiple chances in the final 10 minutes of the first half, including a wicked shot by junior Kelly Amador, whose header in the 33rd minute glanced harmlessly off the right side of the crossbar.

An ensuing header by Pennsbury junior Caroline Foley off a feed from classmate Riley Rudd in the 35th minute was gathered in by D-W junior goalkeeper Morgan O’Loughlin, who really had to earn her paycheck in the second half.

Truth be told, the keeper for the Whippets stood on her head keeping the Falcons at bay. When she wasn’t making saves with her limbs, she was putting her whole body in harm’s way.

“Morgan has been standing on her head and she did it again today,” stated D-West head coach Wes Davis.

“She commands the whole game. She gets the back line organized, gives directions and as she did today, makes big saves.

“She’s athletic. Some keepers are athletic and don’t talk; some talk but aren’t athletic. She has both.”

With five minutes gone in the second half, Pennsbury finally broke through. Junior captain Meri Webber connected on a header with a free kick from senior Karina Raykova.

Seven minutes later however, the Falcons were whistled for a handball in the penalty box with sophomore Hope Drewes flagged for the infraction. That’s what led to the penalty kick and hence the winning strike by Peraino.

Afterward, Pennsbury insisted the PK was uncalled for.

“Her hand was in a natural position,” explained Amador. “It shouldn’t have been called. They had one in their own box too but what are you gonna do?

After the Whippets went ahead, Pennsbury threw all of their efforts on the attack, launching two straight shots at the D-W net, one of which was stopped by O’Loughlin and another that was saved by senior captain Tessa Veurink.

When O’Loughlin wasn’t making the save, her defenders were right there to make sure the ball stayed out of the net.

Moments later on a play that began with a corner kick by sophomore Jenna Peters, two more shots were launched at the Whippets’ net. One hit Amador in the back and another was blocked by D-W defender Sienna Veurink.

“We pride ourselves on team defense,” added Davis. “That’s definitely what happened today.

“They are a great team – very technical, very physical. You can’t give them too many chances. Luckily, we gave them just enough and didn’t give them that extra one.”

With five-and-a-half minutes remaining, O’Loughlin used her head to steer Rudd’s corner kick out of harm’s way. She made a body block on a follow-up shot by junior Cara Thomas.

“I don’t want to take anything away from their win; their keeper had a great game,” stated Amador. “But in my opinion, the result should have been completely different.”

For D-West, the Whippets are back in states and are going to try to capture Keystone State gold for the first time since 2009.

“It’s good to be back,” said Davis. “It’s a good group of girls. Some of them were around when we went to states in 2012 so it’s always good to get your ticket punched early.”

For the Falcons, who were ousted from states a year ago when they lost 2-1 to eventual 2014 state champion CB West, it’s time to regroup. In the moments after this one however, all some of the players could do was lament what might have been.

“Anyone that sat here and watched this game knows we were by far the better team,” said Amador.

“We had a great attack, It was just unlucky – our finishing today.”

“We’re mad now and we’re going to get to states; we hope we see them again,” added Wick.

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Downingtown West 2, Pennsbury 1

(Oct. 31 at Pennsbury)

FIRST-HALF GOALS: D-W — Emily Feeney, from Sydney Amparo, 19 minute

SECOND-HALF GOALS: P — Meredith Webber, from Karina Raykova, 45th minute; D-W — Gina Peraino, unassisted, 52nd minute

SHOTS: P —24; D-W — 5

SAVES: Nany Santiago (P) 4; Morgan O’Loughlin 20

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