Daily Local News (West Chester, PA)

Great Valley falls in district title game

- By Jeff Kerr jkerr@dailylocal.com @jeff_kerr on Twitter

SOUDERTON » Once time expired, Great Valley wondered what could have been as the Patriots saw Central Bucks East celebrate at midfield.

Head coach Dave Moffett understood that feeling of victory as Great Valley was the team hoisting the district championsh­ip trophy last year.

“It’s frustratin­g,” Moffett said. “But these guys are veterans, they been through this before. We’re alive and get another game. We’ll regroup from this and go out and try to get another championsh­ip.”

This season the Patriots, making a Cinderella run of their own, fell just one goal short of repeating as champions.

Brian Gilligan’s header in the 34th minute was the difference as No. 4 Central Bucks East defeated No. 15 Great Valley 1-0 to win the District 1 Class AAA championsh­ip at Souderton High School Saturday night.

Great Valley (16-4-2) will play Southern Lehigh, the District 11 champions, in the PIAA Class AAA first round Tuesday at a site and time to be determined. Central Bucks East (20-2) will face the fourth place team from District 3 in the opening round.

The Patriots were the dominant team for the first 40 minutes, but couldn’t find the back of the net. Using a strong possession game set Great Valley deep into C.B. East’s side of the field, resulting in five firsthalf corners.

Thanks to C.B. East keeper Austin Prime, Great Valley was kept off the scoreboard.

“We were banging on on the door, but just could not get it through,” Moffett said. “Their keeper did a great job with a couple stops and pushing (the ball) up to the bar. He was just there. Give him credit, he definitely kept them in it. Otherwise, we were that close to blowing it open.”

Once C.B. East got the ball on Great Valley’s side of the field, the Patriots took advantage of the opportunit­y. Evan Vare took a free kick from 30-yards out and found Gilligan, who headed it in past Great Valley keeper Aiden Claffey

“It’s frustratin­g. But these guys are veterans, they been through this before. We’re alive and get another game. We’ll regroup from this and go out and try to get another championsh­ip.”

to give C.B. East a 1-0 lead heading into halftime.

Once the momentum shifted in C.B. East’s favor, the Patriots couldn’t be stopped. C.B. East controlled possession in the second half, denying Great Valley any opportunit­y for the equalizer.

“They dropped a guy in the midfield and sort of clogged things up,” Moffett said. “We weren’t able to knock the ball around like we normally did and that sort of disrupted us a little bit. We were off in the second half and frustrated by it. We just didn’t play anywhere near our best in that half.”

Great Valley failed to convert on any of its five corners, despite three good set pieces which were denied by Prime, who finished with seven saves to earn the shutout.

Claffey had four saves for Great Valley.

Despite the loss, the Patriots had a strong run throughout the district tournament, upsetting three top-10 seeded teams en route to the final.

As a result, Great Valley’s level of confidence heading into the PIAA tournament is high. Another deep state playoff run is not out of the question.

“It’s time to gear up for the next tournament,” Moffett said. “We feel capable of beating any team out there. These guys are upset and frustrated now, but hopefully we’ll take it out on the next opponent.”

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