This week’s Philafieldhockey.com Game of the Week poll selected the matchup between Central Bucks East and Downingtown West (DW). These District One AAA teams had faced off earlier this fall in their season opener game. The first contest proved to be an intense battle resulting in a 3-2 overtime victory for the Central Bucks East Patriots. However, Downingtown West did not have their full line-up for the first meet up, including key junior attacker, Taylor Orsi, who was injured thus making this quarterfinal game much anticipated.
Each team came in with strong overall and league records. CB East recorded a 14-4-1 overall record and an 11-1 record in the Suburban One League. D’West held a 15-4 overall record as well as a 12-1 record in the ChesMont League. In addition, each team had several college commitments that impacted the game including: CB East’s Riley Donnelly to University of Maryland and Reilly Finegan to Drexel University and D’West’s Romea Ricardo to University of North Carolina and Taylor Orsi to Louisville. Based on statistics, these two teams match up very evenly.
Although Downingtown West is a young team with only three seniors, they did not hesitate to put immediate offensive pressure on the CB East defense. “We knew their game plan from watching film and studying their corners, from which they have scored most of their goals this season,” said junior midfielder Romea Ricardo, who assisted both of goals for Downingtown. D’West’s Co-Head Coach, Jeff Ricardo, held film sessions throughout the week to study the Patriot’s defensive strategy and prevent the ball from getting into the hands of their junior center midfielder Riley Donnelly. “Romea (Ricardo) marked Riley (Donnelly) in the middle,” as noted by Coach Ricardo when going over his team’s game plan. Donnelly served as a strong ball distributor for the CB East Patriots throughout the season, but was held to only one assist on CB East’s lone goal of the game.
However, CB East’s defense did not buckle to D’West’s offensive power. Senior defender Sarah Sheehy noted that her team knew today’s game was very important and had “put in a lot of effort and worked hard together” in the practices during the previous week leading up the game. This preparation was apparent in the strong passing and methodical efforts of CB East’s defensive unit. Donelly along with senior midfielder and captain, Reilly Finegan, assisted the defense to work the ball up the field into their offensive end resulting in four offensive corners for CB East.
The battle continued to go back and forth for the duration of the first half. The game remained scoreless at halftime and well into the second half as the battle continued between D’West’s offense and CB East’s defense.
The game remained scoreless until 16:40 minutes remaining in the game when CB East scored their first goal. A ball sent in from outside the circle by junior midfielder Riley Donnelly was tipped around Downingtown West’s goalkeeper, sophomore Sierra Angelini, by sophomore attacker Cailey Lever.
Motivated to avoid a repeat of the team’s previous matchup this season, D’West’s offense was quick to answer. Just under three minutes after CB East’s goal, the Whippets got the ball into their offensive end where they earned a corner; they converted the corner to tie the game at 1-1 with 14:06 minutes remaining. Freshman attacker, Tatum Johnson tipped in the ball sent in by junior, Romea Ricardo out of the air and into the back of the cage passed CB East’s goalkeeper, junior Sydney Richter. A little over one minute after their first goal, the D’West’s offense obtained possession of the ball and earned another offensive corner. Once again, the Whippets were able to tally another goal off the corner play, bringing the score to 2-1 in favor of D’West. Ricardo added another assist as she passed the ball to junior teammate Orsi for a shot from the top of the circle for the game-winning goal.
Following D’West’s second goal, Coach Michelle Finegan of CB East called a timeout to refocus her team. “I told them to work on the flow out of the back field and look for the other options,” said Coach Finegan. The time-out talk seemed to re-energize the CB East Patriots resulting in four offensive corner opportunities throughout the remainder of the game. ‘D’West’s defense and goalkeeper held off the corner attempts and several goal-scoring opportunities created by the CB East attack and midfield. With a few minutes remaining in the game, the Whippets gained possession and maintained it for the final minutes to secure their spot in the semifinals against #2 Conestoga.
With this win, D’West improves to 16-4 overall record. “This was a big win for the team and especially the junior class,” noted the Downingtown West coach, Jeff Ricardo. The Downingtown West juniors had experienced tough season-ending losses the past two years making this win and advancement into the semifinal round of playoffs even sweeter. With only three seniors on the roster, this win was truly a team effort for Downingtown. “With a young team it is pivotal to get freshman and sophomores involved,” stated Coach Ricardo. Downingtown West will prepare to face Conestoga next week in the semifinal round for District One AAA.
Lauren Hibshman is a former Division I stand-out field hockey at Drexel University and the USA Women’s Indoor National Team. She currently serves as an assistant coach at Gwynedd Mercy University.
#3 Downingtown West 2, #6 Central Bucks East 1
Downingtown West 0-2=2
CB East: 0-1=1
Half-time score 0-0
16:40 Central Bucks East Cailey Lever, Assist Riley Donnelly
14:06 Downingtown West Tatum Johnson, Assist Romea Riccardo
12:50 Downingtown West Taylor Orsi, Assist Romea Riccardo
Goalie Saves: D’West: Sierra Angelini 3; CB East: Sydney Richter 4
Penalty Shots: Downingtown West 7; Central Bucks East 8
Shots on Goal: Downingtown West 8; Central Bucks East 3
D’West improves to 16-4.
CB East: overall 15-5-1, league 11-1
Photos by Jake Gallagher. Click on photos to enlarge. Photos available for purchase.
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