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Avon Grove caps perfect Ches-Mont season

DOWNINGTOWN >> Having repeated as Ches-Mont League National Division champions on Tuesday, the next thing on the Avon Grove girls soccer to-do list was to finish division play undefeated.

Behind stout defensive play that limited Downingtown West’s opportunities, the Red Devils scored in the latter part of each half to earn a 2-0 victory over the Whippets at DiSerafino Stadium on Wednesday. Avon Grove finished the regular season at 17-0-1 and 12-0 in the Ches-Mont National.

One of the linchpins of the Red Devils’ season has been their defense. They now have seven straight shutouts. They last allowed a goal in a 2-1 win over Great Valley on Oct. 3 and have outscored their opponets by a 53-8 margin.

“Step and cover is our main thing. We don’t want anyone to score goals, so we cover for each other,” said Avon Grove center back Eden Veenema. “We take each game as it goes. We know who our opponents are, we know their strengths, so we adjust to that and figure out how to shut them out.”

“They definitely know how to work as a unit,” added Avon Grove assistant coach Marisa Muller. “I think they can handle anything that comes towards them and our goalies (Grace Keen and Emma Moss) just seal it.”

The first half was a defensive stalemate for most of the first 40 minutes. Neither team had a great chance. The Whippets’ backline matched AG, cleared ball for cleared ball.

Avon Grove thought they had broken through when Sydney Correll scored, but it was disallowed for offsides and they played on scoreless.

The Red Devils did get the all-important first goal with a little more than two minutes left. MaryKate Walker unleashed a long range shot that beat goal Kylie Seckinger, but rang off the post. But, Alexa Smith beat everyone to the rebound and knocked the ball into the open net for the lead heading into halftime.

Despite being ahead, Avon Grove head coach Christian Dunn wasn’t entirely pleased.

“We weren’t satisfied with how we played in the first half,” said Dunn. “I think that we corrected a lot of stuff at halftime, and I liked how we looked in the second half a lot more.”

The AG defense continued to lock down the D-West (7-2-2, 9-6-2) offense. They allowed just three shots (five overall) that did not require a save by second-half goalie Emma Moss.

Avon Grove was able to tack on an insurance goal just under the five minute mark. A through ball found a wide open Alexis Manfredi, who emphatically buried it in the left corner of the net.

“It felt great to put us up two as we were starting to get a little nervous,” said Manfredi. “We were able to pull it together as a team and I think we’ve been working all season for this and we’re not stopping.”

Both teams will head into district play, Avon Grove is ranked second in 4A, while Downingtown West is 23rd.

“I think that the girls set high expectations for themselves at the start of the season,” said Dunn. “We talked about how hard they had to work to get there and they put in the work from the summer through preseason. Every practice and every game we talked about intensity. I couldn’t be prouder of the effort they put into every game to get to where we are right now.”

Avon Grove 2, Downingtown West 0
Avon Grove 1 1 – 2
Downingtown West 0 0 – 0
Avon Grove goals: Smith, Manfredi.
Goalie saves: Keen (AG) 1, Moss (AG) 0; Seckinger (DW) 3.

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