Henderson cruises into Class AA quarterfinals
WEST GOSHEN >> West Chester Henderson’s field hockey team punishes its opposition with what must seem like droves of talented athletes who are very capable of generating and scoring goals.
The Warriors are also able to use their quality stick skills to control the ball much of the time and are also able to limit their foes’ touches with tight defense at the other end of the field.
During the second round of the District 1 Class AA playoffs Wednesday afternoon, host Henderson virtually exploded to a victory. Henderson put five goals on the scoreboard in the first half and sprinted to an 8-0 victory over Phoenixville, which represented the Pioneer Athletic Conference.
The third-seeded Warriors from the Ches-Mont League (now 16-3) advanced to Friday’s quarterfinal round of competition and will face the winner of Wednesday night’s game between two more Ches-Mont League members, Great Valley and West Chester East.
Phoenixville, the 14th seed with its young squad that includes just two seniors, completed its campaign with a 10-9-1 overall record under first-year head coach JaJa Kentwell, who is also well-known for his abundant work with the WC Eagles club teams.
While the Phantoms have limited weapons at this point, coach Jen O’Donnell has vast ammunition at Henderson. She has been producing winners since arriving on the scene seven years ago, including a Ches-Mont championship in 2010, after a successful three-year run at neighboring West Chester Rustin prior to that time.
The Warriors got on the board with Jillian Latimer’s goal on an assist by Olivia Griffith at the 28:58 mark of the first half and proceeded to roll from that point forward. Henderson used its large lead to help institute a running clock during the second half.
Two of Henderson’s top performers included senior Emma Bertrando and junior Lexi Dunleavy.
“We are starting to work well together,” said Bertrando. “We are peaking at the right time. We want to keep going. We have been connecting better, and that leads to goals.”
Bernard ended the day with two goals and one assist. Latecomer ended up with two goals and a pair of assists, and Kasey Collins contributed two straight goals that gave Henderson a 3-0 cushion with 13:33 remaining until halftime.
Dunleavy chipped in with one goal and one assist while Claire Applebee also had one goal. Isabelle Harkins provided a pair of assists.
“This was a great win,” said Dunleavy. “We lead our team and are hoping we play well together. We are connecting. Our scoring has been spread out.”
Phoenixville goalies Tyler Hall and Malia Edney were peppered with shot attempts. Hall finished with three saves while Edney had one save. The Warriors’ Emily Franco posted the shutout with two saves. Henderson dominated in corners, 18-3.
Despite the setback, Kentwell looked on the bright side for the 2016 season and for what potentially lies ahead for the Phantoms.
“I think it’s been a very good season by them,” said Kentwell. “Aside from today’s game, you have to look at our program after losing 15 seniors. We have so many varsity players who are freshmen and sophomores. Ninety percent of the team has other sports as their first sport. So to get to where we got to is quite amazing.”
“Since day one, when we had nothing, and to see where we are today, we have definitely improved immensely,” said Phoenixville senior Katie Sullivan. “I am happy to have played on the team for four years.”
“We were not expecting to do much as a team,” said Phoenixville senior Erica Sposato. “I see how much better we got. I am proud of my career.”
O’Donnell talked about her Warriors.
“They play really well together as a team,” she said. “It’s a good group of girls. It is a real good group of girls.”
Henderson’s only losses came against the top-rated teams among the big schools in Class AAA. The Warriors fell to Conestoga in overtime; dropped a one-goal game to Downingtown West; and fell to Unionville, 4-1.
NOTES >> Henderson got some strong field play from Peighton Bement, Ming Doherty, Madelyn Reuther, Jordan Bauer and Amy Hewson . ... Phoenixville got steals from Cora Brown and Gabby Herschell as well as a block from Rebecca Lewis. ... Other good Phantom defensive work came from Sophia Bierly and, Kyra Trafford while Ameerah Green, Katherine Baker, Sydney Alling and Cassidy Stevens helped with possession and penetration downfield . ... Henderson’s roster is topheavy with juniors (15) and also includes three seniors and two freshmen with no sophomores.