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Downingtown East shuts down Rustin attack on the way to victory

UWCHLAN >> The post-match reactions sounded like comments you would hear after a blowout, not a one-goal squeaker.

Yes, Downingtown East needed a second half goal to edge visiting West Chester Rustin, 1-0, in a boys’ Ches-Mont clash on Thursday afternoon. But it was a satisfying day for the hosts, and a frustrating one for the Golden Knights. And the reason was clear: the Cougars played 40 minutes of soccer on their terms.

“We were playing their game, and that’s why we got the loss,” said Rustin head coach Ryan Castle.

“You can’t score if you don’t shoot. And that was probably the most shots we’ve taken in a hundred years,” joked Cougars’ head coach Tom Creighton. “We were shooting the ball, and in sloppy conditions, one mishap by our backs and (Rustin) has a couple guys that can really finish.”

East had a pronounced advantage in shots. But perhaps most importantly, the Cougars limited the Knights to just two shots on goal, which meant that new goalkeeper Colin Colebaugh had a rather easy day and notched the shutout.

“We played some pretty good defense and it was pretty slippery out there,” said senior defender J.J. Burke.

“We had to communicate a lot because one mistake can lead to (Rustin) attacking,” added sophomore back Luis Colmenares. “And with a new keeper it was a little confusing at the beginning but we eventually were able to get into the flow.”

Now 3-1-1 in the league (4-2-1 overall), East was coming off a tough 3-1 setback to West Chester Henderson, the Ches-Mont’s lone remaining unbeaten. Rustin (3-2, 4-2) entered the contest having scored 24 goals in its first five outings.

“This was a good bounce-back win after a tough loss to a darn good team,” Creighton pointed out. “We are in a tough stretch with Henderson, Rustin, then a couple non-league games this weekend followed by (Downingtown) West on Monday.”

The only goal came 14 minutes into the second half when junior Cooper Waters tracked down a pass on the right wing, delivered a centering pass to teammate Donnie Robson, and the senior headed it into the net.

“It was clinical. Cooper took the ball toward the end line, popped one back-bar for Donnie and he finished it,” Creighton summarized.

“We work on back-post plays like that all the time in practice,” Robson added. “I thought we dominated offensively. We were knocking on the goal the whole game, we finally got one, and then closed it out with our defense.”

The Knights didn’t have many scoring opportunities, but they did get a prime one with just over three minutes on the clock when a Calvin Stevens pass got through to senior forward Dimitri Makris on the left wing, but his shot went wide.

Just two days after a 1-0 triumph over Unionville, Rustin was unable to mount much in the way of offense, and the Knights actually had a narrow 8-7 edge in corner kicks.

“I thought we were OK defensively,” Castle said. “The problem was making some questionable decisions when trying to find the right guys in transition.

“To Downingtown East’s credit, they came in knowing that if they limit our ability to play soccer it would give them a much better chance to win. They fully deserved to win because they stopped us from playing the way we want to play.”

In the opening half, the Cougars had several scoring chances. The best came when Nate Leandri got his foot on a scramble following a corner kick but his point-blank shot was steered away by Rustin defender Ryan Seelaus.

In addition, Colmenares had a couple free kicks from near midfield that were headed for just under the crossbar, but leaping Knights’ goalie Gavin Barker was able to punch both away. This is the rookie season for Colmenares, who missed his freshman year with an injury.

“I thought it was one of the better games we’ve played this season as far as playing team soccer,” Creighton said.

“I think we won more than our share of battles in the midfield today.”

Downingtown East 1, West Chester Rustin 0

West Chester Rustin                                  0 0 — 0

Downingtown East                                     0 1 — 1

Downingtown East goal: Robson.

Goalie saves: Barker (WCR) 10; Colebaugh (DE) 2.

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