Hen­der­son shuts out Stoga for dis­trict ti­tle

Hen­der­son shuts out neme­sis Con­estoga for dis­trict ti­tle

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - FRONT PAGE - By Bruce Adams badams@21st-cen­tu­ry­media.com @mline­s­ports on Twit­ter

Red-hot West Ch­ester Hen­der­son, which had outscored its op­po­nents 12-1 in its first three con­tests in the PIAA Dis­trict One 4A boys’ soc­cer tour­na­ment, knew it faced a par­tic­u­larly tough chal­lenge in the cham­pi­onship fi­nal against un­de­feated Con­estoga Satur­day after­noon at Great Val­ley High School.

When the War­riors lost to Con­estoga, 2-1, ear­lier this sea­son, it marked the seventh straight loss Hen­der­son en­dured against the Pioneers.

“For us se­niors, we knew we were 0-7 in our last seven games against Con­estoga,” said Hen­der­son se­nior for­ward Frank DeRosa. “And our last loss [2-1] was at home. We did not want to lose again.”

Hen­der­son se­nior de­fender Max Zandi added, “We came out to­day with [plenty of] en­ergy.”

The en­er­getic War­riors came out of the gate smok­ing, DeRosa scored a goal in the 11th minute of play, and Hen­der­son (21-11) spent most of the first half in Con­estoga’s ter­ri­tory on the way to a 2-0 vic­tory and the Dis­trict One cham­pi­onship.

Con­estoga head coach David Zim­mer­man, whose Pioneers suf­fered their first de­feat of the sea­son, said, “All credit goes to Hen-

der­son, par­tic­u­larly in the first half. For the first 15 min­utes of the game, they played like I’ve not seen any­one play.”

Zandi, who as­sisted on the sec­ond goal, said, “This was one of our best games of the sea­son. In Dis­tricts, we’ve re­ally been click­ing.”

By the end of the game, the War­riors felt re­lief as well as ju­bi­la­tion.

“When the game was over, I just said, ‘Thank God,’ said Zandi. “We knew we were 0-7 [against Con­estoga] com­ing in.”

DeRosa said, “When the game ended I was re­ally tired. But I re­ally wanted to cel­e­brate with our fans, so we went over to see them [right after the game].”

In the open­ing round of the PIAA 4A state tour­na­ment Tues­day, West Ch­ester Hen­der­son will play Cum­ber­land Val­ley, the third­place fin­isher from Dis­trict 3; while Con­estoga will

square off against Park­land, the sec­ond-place fin­isher in Dis­trict 11.

Hen­der­son head coach Sean Ryan said, “I have a lot of re­spect for Con­estoga, they’ve been re­ally suc­cess­ful. We were on them for the first 10 min­utes or so, and Frank’s early goal re­ally set­tled our play­ers down. Frank’s scor­ing has been a big [ad­van­tage] for us lately. Ai­dan [se­nior mid­fielder Ai­dan McFad­den] did a great job whip­ping the ball in to Frank be­fore he scored.”

DeRosa said, “The play started off with [se­nior for­ward] Richie Sch­lentz play­ing the ball in, and I took a shot that hit the post. Ai­dan played the sec­ond ball in to me, I saw an open­ing to the goal, but I couldn’t get to the ball with my foot, so I got my head on it, and it went in.”

In the 40th minute, Zandi got the ball in­side to se­nior Zach Roberts, who fired in a goal just be­fore the half ended to give the War­riors a 2-0 lead. On a sim­i­lar play a week ago against Lower Me­rion in

the Dis­trict One quar­ter­fi­nals, the Zandi-to-Roberts con­nec­tion led to an over­time game-win­ner against Lower Me­rion.

“I was just try­ing to get a de­cent ball in, I was try­ing to aim for Zach and cre­ate chaos for the goal­keeper,” said Zandi. “Zach’s been the hot guy for us.”

Ryan said, “Zach’s been one of our key play­ers [lately], with his [clutch] scor­ing and mid­field play.”

Zim­mer­man said, “That sec­ond goal was too much, made it dif­fi­cult to re­cover from. For us to score three goals at that point is un­re­al­is­tic.

“I don’t think we played par­tic­u­larly well in the first half. When you get to this level [in the post-sea­son], you have to con­sis­tently show up, play well.”

Ryan sees the vet­eran War­riors com­ing to­gether at the right time.

“We had some in­juries and ill­ness ear­lier this sea­son, but got every­body back a week be­fore the reg­u­lar sea­son ended,” said Ryan. “We have a lot of re­ally tal­ented play­ers, many of whom have played soc­cer [to­gether] for more than a decade. We have pretty good depth of tal­ent – we used 16 guys to­day.”

For Con­estoga, this loss could be a gut check, ac­cord­ing to Zim­mer­man.

“The key for us now will be how we re­act to our first loss of the sea­son,” said Zim­mer­man. “Some­times it can re-fuel a team – we’ll see.”

PETE BANNAN — DIG­I­TAL FIRST ME­DIA

West Ch­ester Hen­der­son play­ers em­brace se­nior Frank DeRosa (sec­ond from left) after he scored against Con­estoga in the Dis­trict 1 Class AAAA Cham­pi­onship on Satur­day.

PETE BANNAN — DIG­I­TAL FIRST ME­DIA

West Ch­ester Hen­der­son’s Frank DeRosa passes Con­estoga’s Gabe Harms.

PETE BANNAN — DIG­I­TAL FIRST ME­DIA

West Ch­ester Hen­der­son Ai­den McFad­den (10) and Tom Kelly try to head the ball against Con­estoga on Satur­day.

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