|Photo by Bill Rudick/ Downingtown East's Nicole Baxley clears the ball away from goalie Hannah Overholtzer during Tuesday's game.|
By BILL RUDICK
DOWNINGTOWN — For 59 minutes of field hockey, Great Valley and Downingtown East played about as even a game as can be played. But in the final minute, the Cougars took advantage of a corner opportunity and broke through with the winning goal to steal a 3-2 win at Kottmeyer Stadium in Downingtown.
“This group really knows how to stay cool under pressure,” said East coach Steph Bullock. “They know how to step it up when they need to, and they played a solid, consistent game right up to the final whistle.”
Over the first 30 minutes of play, the Cougars held a slight statistical advantage, with a 7-4 edge in shots and a 6-4 margin in corners. But the only number that truly matters is the one on the scoreboard, and at the end of the first half, it was 1-1.
East struck first six minutes in when Laura Dutzman found the back of the cage during a penalty corner. Great Valley struck right back, though, with a goal of its own less than a minute later.
Given its own corner opportunity on the other end, the Patriots’ Jackie Douglas inbounded it to Shanon McAneney, who slipped it over to Jordan Keith. Keith unleashed a shot on goal, but it was turned away by East goalie Hannah Overholtzer. Josie Hungerbuhler was waiting on her pads, though, and sent the rebound into the cage to tie the game.
“We played a pretty solid game today,” said Great Valley coach Joe Tornetta. “We were making our drops, cutting the field off, making our passes, just doing all the little things well. We played well enough to win against one of the best teams in the league in Downingtown East. It’s disappointing we couldn’t find a way to win.”
The second half saw East kick up the intensity a little bit, and Dutzman notched her second goal of the game just 1:45 into the latter session. But after the initial outburst, the Patriots hung with the Cougars stride for stride, shot for shot, and defensive play for defensive play. With 13:03 to play, Douglas sent a pass to Hungerbuhler, who scored her second goal of the day to tie things at 2-2.
“We just tried to keep the ball out of the center and clear it out of the circle,” said East defender Hayley Gibson. “We just had to keep our focus and don’t give up. We know if we keep playing hard, someone will come through.”
The Cougars were awarded a corner with a mere 1:14 left in regulation. Cassie Hunter put the ball in play, sending it into Claire Webb, who sent a cross to Kate McLaughlin. Battling a Patriots defender, McLaughlin patiently set up her shot, waiting for her opening. Once she saw the opening, she sent a bullet into the back of the cage for the game-winner.
“It’s stressful,” said McLaughlin of playing in a tight game. “It was tied, and there was not much time left and we knew we had to get it in. I was lucky enough to be the one that got to score the goal, but this was a total team effort.”
“Kate has been a force in the forward line for us,” said Bullock. “She is poised and confident, and fights to get it it.”
Great Valley didn’t pack it in, and gave it a valiant effort to get the ball back upfield, but there simply wasn’t enough time left on the clock.
“We found a way to lose,” said Tornetta. “We came out a little lazy to start the second half, and East took advantage. We had our opportunities to win this, and we just have to start finding ways to win these kind of close games.”
The win gives East a little bit of momentum heading into Thursday’s showdown with Unionville, which has yet to lose to a Ches-Mont opponent from either division.
“Great Valley played really well today,” said Bullock. “It’s always good to come away from a tight game with the win. Hopefully we can keep it going.”
Downingtown East 3, Great Valley 2
Great Valley 1 1 -- 2
Downingtown East 1 2 -- 3
Great Valley goals: Hungerbuhler 2.
Downingtown East goals: Dutzman 2, McLaughlin.
Goalie saves: Neary (GV) 2; Overholtzer (DE) 2.