Whippets upended in OT
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.”