West­town clinches PAISAA Ti­tle

West­town wins state ti­tle be­hing goal by sopho­more Lad­ner

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

When West­town School de­feated Spring­side Ch­est­nut Hill Academy, 1-0, in the PAISAA girls’ soc­cer cham­pi­onship fi­nal Wed­nes­day evening at Im­mac­u­lata Univer­sity, it was fit­ting that the game’s lone goal was scored by sopho­more mid­fielder Relly Lad­ner.

“Relly’s been on fire [scor­ing] since we moved her to out­side right mid [in the post-sea­son],” said West­town co-head coach Paul Lehmann. “We switched from a 4-5-1 dur­ing the reg­u­lar sea­son to more of a 3-5-2 in the post-sea­son, and it paid off.”

West­town (15-6), en­ter­ing the PAISAA tour­na­ment as the No. 7 seed, de­feated sec­ond seed Epis­co­pal Academy 3-1 in the quar­ter­fi­nals, then pre­vailed against No. 3 seed Bald­win School, 5-0, in the semi­fi­nal to reach the fi­nals against fifth seeded Spring­side.

“We’re the first girls’ team at West­town to win a state ti­tle,” said Lehmann. “Com­ing on the heels of the first boys’ team at West­town to win a state ti­tle [West­town boys bas­ket­ball team, last win­ter], this makes it pretty spe­cial.”

Lad­ner, a Dart­mouth com­mit, scored the game-win­ner with 23:02 left, drib­bling down the right side of the field, and work­ing her way past the goalie for a suc­cess­ful shot.

“When I hit the shot, I looked up, and I saw it hit the post and go in,” said Lad­ner. “It felt un­real.”

Lehmann said, “I def­i­nitely think [Lad­ner’s] goal turned the mo­men­tum in our fa­vor. See­ing

Relly and Sara [sopho­more for­ward Sara Oswald] play­ing so hard out there tonight to make some­thing hap­pen, it was nice to see the team re­warded for their ef­forts.”

Oswald, a Lafayette com­mit who has scored 25 goals this sea­son, smiled and said, “When the game ended, it felt like a com­plete relief. This has been the long­est sea­son of our lives - we had some in­juries [ear­lier] to over­come, and we played so many games this sea­son.”

Al­though West­town was the lower seed and tech­ni­cally the away team, Wed­nes­day night’s con­test al­most felt like a home game for the Moose, since Im­mac­u­lata’s Draper Walsh Sta­dium was just a short drive from West­town. A siz­able con­tin­gent of West­town fans (many of them stu­dents) made plenty of noise dur­ing the con­test, and the youths stormed the field when the game was over. On the side­lines after the game, a large crowd of West­town fans snapped pho­tos of the new­ly­crowned PAISAA cham­pion play­ers and coaches.

West­town sopho­more goalie Natalie Neu­mann, who made half-a-dozen saves to pre­serve the 1-0 win, said, “It was amaz­ing see­ing how many fans came out tonight to sup­port us.”

Lad­ner, Oswald and Neu­mann play to­gether on the same club team (Penn Fu­sion) and are look­ing for­ward to two more years of win­ning to­gether at West­town.

“We have a young team, with a lot of play­ers com­ing back next year,” said Oswald. Lehmann noted, “We started seven fresh­men and sopho­mores this year. And ju­nior Val Thomp­son re­ally has an­chored the back line for us this sea­son. Our back four re­ally held [Spring­side Ch­est­nut Hill] tonight - Val Thomp­son, [fresh­man de­fender] Brid­get Fitz­patrick, [sopho­more de­fender] Mad­die Boc­tor and [fresh­man de­fender] Natalia San­tan­gelo. Our game plan was to shut down Spring­side’s Num­ber 2 [Ten­nessee­bound ju­nior for­ward Emily McNesby], and we did a great job with that, in par­tic­u­lar Natalia.

“And our three start­ing se­niors, [mid­fielder/ for­ward] Marite Horton, [mid­fielder] Abby Domenick and [de­fender/mid­fielder] Stephanie Graziani-Neuburger, did a great job for us, too, this sea­son. Marite did a fan­tas­tic job of settling down the mid­dle.”

Wed­nes­day evening, the Moose de­feated a gritty Spring­side Ch­est­nut Hill squad that had edged No. 1 seed Penn Char­ter 1-0 in the PAISAA semi­fi­nal to ad­vance to the cham­pi­onship game.

“I’m very proud of my team,” said Spring­side Ch­est­nut Hill head coach Maria DeGe­orge Kos­min. “At the be­gin­ning of the sea­son, I don’t think any­one ex­pected us to be here [in the cham­pi­onship fi­nal]. We had a rough mid­dle of the sea­son with in­juries, but we over­came a lot to get this far. West­town is a very tal­ented team.”

PETE BANNAN — DIG­I­TAL FIRST ME­DIA

West­town play­ers cel­e­brate after beat­ing Spring­side Ch­est­nut Hill Academy, 1-0, in the fi­nal of the Penn­syl­va­nia Independent Schools Ath­letic As­so­ci­a­tion girls soc­cer fi­nal at Im­mac­u­lata Univer­sity on Wed­nes­day.

PETE BANNAN — DIG­I­TAL FIRST ME­DIA

West­town’s Relly Lad­ner scores the game-win­ning goal past Spring­side Ch­est­nut Hill goalie Sena Houes­sou-Adin in the sec­ond half Tues­day.

PETE BANNAN — DIG­I­TAL FIRST ME­DIA

West­town goalie Natalie Neu­mann makes a save in the first half of Tues­day’s PAISAA fi­nal at Im­mac­u­lata against Spring­side Ch­est­nut Hill. Neu­mann made six saves in the 1-0 shutout.

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