Late Lead Vanishes: Perk Valley comes back to beat Downingtown East

GRATERFORD >> Facing a three-goal deficit with less than eight minutes left, Perkiomen Valley needed something to gets its offense going.

Hosting a district playoff game for the first time in program history, the Vikings hadn’t scored a goal in the second half and time was winding down in Tuesday night’s first round district playoff game against Downingtown East at Perkiomen Valley High School.

“I saw some kids with their heads down and saw some other kids were getting a little sad,” senior Ben Minardi said. “But when Peyton (Rieser), our faceoff guy, kept winning them, I knew, because we were winning all the faceoffs and he was doing a great job and our defense was doing so well, that we just needed one spark.”

The spark was provided by sophomore Brian Fehr, who scored the Vikings’ first goal of the rally with 6:36 left in the game. The goal started a string of four consecutive scores from Perkiomen Valley, leading the team to a 7-6 come-from-behind victory over Downingtown East.

“That’s the fun part about lacrosse,” Perkiomen Valley coach Brian Churchey said. “It’s all about momentum, and we were able to grab the momentum and run with it.”
The No. 16 Vikings will play at No. 1 Avon Grove on Thursday at 7 p.m. Tuesday’s victory marked the team’s first district playoff win in program history.

“It’s first round high school districts, and I feel like I just won the Super Bowl,” Minardi said.
After Fehr’s goal and two scores from senior Matt Baker tied the game Minardi scored the eventual game winner with 1:45 left. As the ball made its way from behind the net he noticed the Cougars’ defense pinching to the right.

When he received a pass from junior Shawn Coulter, Minardi had an opening and bounced the ball past Downingtown East senior goalie Brody Wilson. Then it was up to the Vikings’ defense and senior goalie Kevin Mo.

Two of Mo’s 10 saves came in the final minutes as he held off a last ditch effort by the Cougars to send the game into overtime.

“I was just trying to stay calm because as a goalie you can’t really get frustrated out there,” Mo said. “You just have to reset after each one, just make the next save.”

“I was just trying to pull one out for the team,” he added.

Perkiomen Valley fell behind 2-0, but Fehr put the Vikings on the board with 45.9 seconds left in the first period and Coulter and Minardi followed with goals in the second. Cougars’ senior Drew Rafferty scored to tie the game at 3-3 heading into halftime.

Following Minardi’s goal at the 6:38 mark in the second period, the Vikings’ offense stalled for more than 23 minutes of play. Wilson, who had nine save in the game, and the Cougars’ defense held Perkiomen Valley scoreless in the third quarter.

“The offense that we run requires a lot of off ball movement,” Churchey said. “It requires our guys to be a little bit more patient to let things develop and we weren’t really doing that.”

Fehr, Baker, Minardi all had two goals for the Vikings.

Minardi almost put the game away immediately after his game-winning goal. He fired a shot at what appeared to be an open net, but Downingtown East defender Brian Dignen dove in front to make a save and give the Cougars a chance.

The senior attacker was forced to sit on the sidelines and trust his defense would finish the job after the close chance.

“I thought it was a goal,” he said. “I started celebrating. When the kid snagged it out I must have lost 10 years of my life. But when I came off the field I know how good our defense is and how good Kevin Mo our goalie is.”

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