Henderson beats Up­per Perk to lock up state bid

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - SPORTS - By Bill Rudick bru­dick55@gmail.com @bru­dick55 on Twit­ter

WEST CHESTER >> Be­fore this sea­son, the only teams in District 1 2A that qual­i­fied for the state tour­na­ment were the two district fi­nal­ists. But with the new classifications, the district field ex­panded by eight teams, and now the top five move on the next leg of the jour­ney to a PIAA cham­pi­onship.

No. 3 Henderson and No. 5 Up­per Perkiomen both suf­fered quar­ter­fi­nal losses, and were forced to play their way back in through the play­back bracket, squar­ing off Fri­day af­ter­noon at Pen­nDOT field in West Chester for fifth place and the right to move on to states. Henderson’s Lexi Dun­leavy scored a sec­ond half goal to give her team a 2-1 lead that would hold up as the fi­nal.

“We’ve been a AA team, so we were used to a lot of the AA field,” said Up­per Perk coach Jamie War­ren. “But the Chester County teams that came in were a bit of a mys­tery to us. We were a lit­tle uncer­tain com­ing in, but you just have to play your best field hockey who­ever it is. Henderson played a great game, but I thought we played well too. I think they just might have been a lit­tle more ag­gres­sive that we were.”

The In­di­ans struck first on a goal from Hope Flack not even two min­utes in, but Henderson an­swered right back with a goal of its own from Mad­die Ruether thirty sec­onds later.

“That seems to hap­pen to us,” said the War­riors Jor­dyn Bauer. “When we give up a score, we don’t let it get in our heads. It just pumps us up that we have to step up our game.”

For the re­main­der of the half, and for much of the sec­ond half, Henderson con­trolled pos­ses­sions, and un­til a late flurry by the In­di­ans, held a 9-1 ad­van­tage in penalty cor­ners. Even­tu­ally, the pres­sure re­sulted in a score, when Dun­leavy con­nected from the top left of the cir­cle to make good on a corner try.

“We just had to stay pa­tient and feel con­fi­dent that we’re go­ing to get the job done,” said Dun­leavy. “We trust each other as team­mates and all be­lieve that we’re go­ing to get it done. It just feels great to know that we’re mov­ing on to states.”

The In­di­ans kept up pres­sure up un­til the fi­nal horn, at one point forc­ing four suc­ces­sive penalty cor­ners in a two minute span, but the War­riors held on for the win.

“All I re­ally knew about Up­per Perk was that they al­ways have a solid, fun­da­men­tally sound team,” said War­riors coach Jen O’Don­nell, her­self an Up­per Perk alum. “I know the year we were district champs, they were the AA champs.”

The War­riors have a young team, but not an in­ex­pe­ri­enced one.

“These girls have been play­ing to­gether a long time,” said O’Don­nell. “They work hard, and work well to­gether. The new classifications give more teams chances in the post­sea­son. And any time you move up a level in the post­sea­son, it’s great ex­pe­ri­ence to build on for the ones com­ing back.”

BILL RUDICK — FOR DIG­I­TAL FIRST ME­DIA

West Chester Henderson’s Lexi Dun­leavy fires home the game-win­ner Fri­day against Up­per Perkiomen.

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