WEST GROVE >> Two talented, evenly matched teams usually produce close, low-scoring games that are exciting to watch, but does damage to your nerves.
That was the case Tuesday evening at Avon Grove as two of the three unbeaten girls’ soccer teams in the Ches-Mont League faced off against each.
Riding a pair of second-half goals from Sydney Correll, the Red Devils hung on for a 2-1 victory over Downingtown East.
The win pushed AG to the top of the National Division standing at 5-0 (8-0-1 overall). The Cougars fell to 4-1-1 and 7-4-2.
“The girls played their hearts out tonight,” said Avon Grove first-year coach Christian Dunn. “They played through injuries, they played through adversity. All credit to the girls. They played great tonight.”
The game was scoreless at halftime with East holding a 5-4 shot advantage.
The Cougars came out after the break holding the advatage in play in the first couple of minutes. They had a couple of shots, but neither one was on target.
The pendulum swung in Avon Grove’s favor, and the Red Devils cashed in one of their opportunities. With a little more than 33 minutes, the Red Devils had a throw-in that was flicked on in the box that Correll was the quickest to, and she knocked it past East goalie Lillian Matte for a 1-0 lead.
“My first goal, the ball was just in front of me and a girl was on me. I knew I had to get around her, and I was able to get a foot on it,” said Correll. “It feels great. It was a really intense game and we knew they would be intense from the start, so we knew we had to match them, and we did.”
Avon Grove continued to have the better of the play and got a second goal on the board midway through the half.
A thru-ball found its way to Correll. Her first shot was stopped by Matte, but she was able to gain the rebound and slip it into the net for a 2-0 lead.
The goal seemed to push the overdrive button on the Cougars. They pushed to reduce the deficit, keeping play in the AG end for stretches at a time.
They were rewarded with under five minutes left. A cross by Katie Edwards was met by Madison Shumate, who knocked it into the net to halve the lead and set up a nervy final few minutes.
“In my opinion, we had three great scoring chances. We hit the post, we hit two right at the keeper and if any of those go by her, it’s a tie game,” said East coach Jason Luzak. “Avon Grove certainly played a good game and battled hard.”
The Avon Grove defense, which hasn’t allowed more than one goal in a game since letting in three in the first contest of the season against Pennsbury, was up to the task, seeing out the remaining time and celebrating the win in front of a boisterous student section.
“I knew it was going to be a hard game, D-East is always good. I knew it was going to be a hard match and I don’t think either team disappointed,” said Dunn. “Sydney’s being playing great all season and our offense works well together. Two really good team goals.
“D-East comes at you fast in a lot of different directions at once and they put a lot of players forward. I think our defense handled the pressure really well. They’re a great unit.”
Avon Grove visits Sun Valley on Thursday, while Downingtown East plays host to Oxford.
Avon Grove 2, Downingtown East 1
Downingtown East 0 1 – 1
Avon Grove 0 2 – 2
Downingtown East goal: Shumate.
Avon Grove goals: Correll 2.
Goalie saves: Matte (DE) 3; Moss (AG) 3, Keen (AG) 2.
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