Whip­pets up­ended in OT

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - SPORTS - By Jeff Kerr jd­kerr247@gmail.com @Jef­fKerr247 on Twit­ter

REIFFTON >> Downingtown West bat­tled too hard to lose a state quar­ter­fi­nal game on a penalty stroke.

Once the Whip­pets saw the of­fi­cial’s sig­nal go up after con­tact on a back­swing against Em­maus for­ward Leah Zell­ner, their chances of up­set­ting the un­de­feated Hor­nets took a ma­jor hit.

Mered­ith Shoul­der put home the penalty stroke past Caitlin Coker to give Em­maus a 3-2 over­time vic­tory over Downingtown West in the PIAA Class AAA quar­ter­fi­nals at Don Thomas Sta­dium Satur­day af­ter­noon.

The fin­ish ended a thrilling game be­tween two of the state’s top teams, but was one clouded with con­tro­versy. Downingtown West (16-7) was on the los­ing end of a call that re­sulted in Em­maus (25-0) ad­vanc­ing to face Penn Manor in the state semi­fi­nals, but de­cided that didn’t de­ter­mine the out­come of the game.

“It was an un­for­tu­nate call, but one we can’t jus­tify nor take it back,” said Downingtown West head coach El­iz­a­beth Mor­row. “The girls played their hearts out. We have to hold our hands up high be­cause ewe played two full halves and that’s what you want out of your play­ers. You can’t take any­thing away from that.”

The Whip­pets took Em­maus to the brink of de­feat on mul­ti­ple oc­ca­sions dur­ing the game, none more so than the over­time pe­riod. West had two cor­ners and four shots in over­time, but couldn’t find the back of the cage for the win­ning goal.

Even though West was 0-4 in over­time games this sea­son head­ing into this matchup, the Whip­pets de­vel­oped a rep­u­ta­tion of not play­ing well

in the ex­tra pe­riod. That changed Satur­day.

“Over­time hasn’t been one of our strengths,” Mor­row said. “We had a cou­ple cor­ners, but we have to fin­ish on those op­por­tu­ni­ties given to us. The girls ac­tu­ally played a great over­time than what we faced dur­ing the sea­son.”

Romea Ric­cardo let Em­maus know it was in for a bat­tle with the game’s first goal on a blast off a corner with 19:01 left in the first half. That goal sparked the Whip­pets for the rest of the game as they sought to pull off a stun­ning up­set against ar­guably the state’s top team in Class AAA.

“I think we got them on their toes, Ric­cardo said. “From there they thought ‘Oh my God, they’re up 1-0. We got to pick it up.’ We had a good push to start and when they pushed we pushed right back.”

West was able to cap­i­tal­ize on a goal from Lane Gar­ber with 27:52 left in reg­u­la­tion to even the score at 2-2. Once the game was tied, the Whip­pets were able to force over­time from the play of Coker, who had three sec­ond-half saves to keep the game at 2-2.

“She had a few kick backs and played great,” Ric­cardo said. “Cait has never played goalie be­fore this sea­son and she really did a great job against a team like that.”

West will feel the sting of this loss for a while, but the Whip­pets re­turn nine of 11 starters next sea­son. They ex­pect to be back in this po­si­tion... and go a bit far­ther.

“We know that we’re young,” Mor­row said. “It’s go­ing to be a good year, but we just have to play to­gether and con­nect through the spring and fall to get ready for it.”

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