SPRINGFIELD >> At first, Maddie Maio had no idea what to say.
Maio and 15th-seeded Central Bucks West wrapped up one of the biggest upsets in recent District One tournament history. The Bucks went to Halderman Field Thursday and defeated No. 2 Springfield, 7-3.
“Any win is great, but this one … wow. I have no words,” said the sophomore midfielder, who caused four turnovers with her lockdown defense and had one assist.
Setting aside the fact that it had eliminated the district’s second seed, a Springfield team that was considered a favorite to play into June and compete for a state title, this was a monumental victory for the C.B. West program for another reason.
“It’s the first time we’ve made it to the third round,” Maio said.
Last year, C.B. West was eliminated in a second-round loss to Harriton. This year, the Bucks (15-5) punched their ticket to the quarterfinals Saturday at West Chester East by defeating Springfield, the second time this month they have beaten a Central League district qualifier (Strath Haven).
“It’s amazing. I think the big thing was we just needed to believe that this was possible,” C.B. West coach Tara Schmucker said. “Getting that mindset was one of the hardest things. Once we did it, and once we started taking control in the first few minutes, we really started believing that we can pull this off.”
A big reason for C.B. West’s ability to keep Springfield to a mere goal until the 23-minute mark of the second half was the defense of Maio and Rachel Shaw, as well as the stellar goalkeeping of Lauren Devlin, who finished with 10 saves.
“Our defense was spectacular today, what with the amount of charge calls and stops that we had,” Schmucker said. “Lauren Devlin came up with some huge saves and our attack really moved the ball so well today. I just think it was an overall excellent team effort.”
Maio pressured with excellent on-the-ball defense and targeted Springfield’s Bridget Whitaker, who was held scoreless.
“We all want to play really aggressive and play as hard as we possibly can,” said Maio, a University of Delaware commit. “It’s not just me, it’s a credit to everyone on defense because that was just a great game. I don’t really have a strategy, I just have to focus on what I need to do and try to get it done.”
Schmucker can appreciate the player that Maio is becoming. In the early 2000s the C.B. West coach starred as a defensive midfielder at Vanderbilt.
“She’s one of our fastest players and just has tremendous one-on-one defense, and is very disciplined in terms of holding body position and not going for the check,” Schmucker said. “It just worked out for her. She had four caused turnovers today, which was just outstanding.”
When Springfield had opportunities, it routinely hurt itself with turnovers and poor execution on attack. It all added up to an early exit for the talented Cougars (17-3).
“We struggled and we didn’t play well. We had a bad game,” longtime Springfield coach Keith Broome said. “C.B. West outplayed us today and was the better team today. They beat us to ground balls, at draws and took better care of the ball than we did. We had tons of chances, but we didn’t convert offensively. To hold us to one goal (for most of the game), when we’re averaging maybe 12 goals a game? We didn’t really go to the goal like we needed to. When we had turnovers, we would give it right back.”
The Cougars didn’t crack the scoreboard until 20 minutes into the first half when Bailey O’Brien netted the first of her team-high two goals. C.B. West took a 4-1 lead into halftime thanks to a pair of goals by Casey Reichwein and Kelly O’Callaghan. Bryn Boylan added two tallies in the second half as the Bucks expanded their advantage to 7-1 with three minutes left.
Springfield showed fight with quick strikes from Maggie O’Connell and O’Brien, but by then it was a classic case of too little, too late.
Junior Julianne Clemens made 14 saves in goal to keep the Cougars hanging around.
“We did not do the things we normally do well,” Broome said. “Jules was out of her mind; she was fantastic. She kept us in the game making saves, interceptions and getting ground balls … but it was a bad time to have a bad game.”