Thursday, October 25, 2012

Downingtown West tops Kennett, rolls into district quarterfinals


DOWNINGTOWN - For more than 45 minutes of their District 1 Class AAA playoff game, the Downingtown West High School boys soccer team got everything it could handle from a pesky Kennett squad who had already pulled off one upset in the tournament.
Then in the blink of an eye it seemed, what had been a tight scoreless battle between Ches-Mont League foes took a big turn.
Brett Coper scored two goals in the span of just over a minute early in the second half to give his squad all the momentum and help propel No. 5 seeded Downingtown West to an impressive 3-0 second-round victory over No. 25 Kennett under the lights at DiSerafino Stadium.
The Ches-Mont League National Division champion Whippets (14-2-3 overall) now advance to the district quarterfinals on Saturday, where they’ll host No. 13 Souderton. Souderton stunned fourth-seeded Conestoga, the defending district and state champions, 4-3 on penalty kicks in the second round.
Kennett (12-7-1), who had upset No. 12 Boyertown in the opening round, saw its season come to a close.
Coper gave Downingtown West a crucial 1-0 advantage with 33:34 remaining in what had been a defensive struggle up to that point. That goal really deflated Kennett’s balloon.
The next one was simply the back breaker. Just 1:14 later, Coper again found the back of the net to give the Whippets a commanding 2-0 cushion.
On both goals, the visiting Blue Demons had trouble clearing the ball out of harm amid scrum’s inside the penalty box.
“The first one just bounced into the box and somebody headed it on, and I was in the right place and was able to punch it in. The second goal they had trouble getting the ball out and I was able to knock it in,” said Coper, who now has four goals in the Whippets’ two playoff wins. “On both goals we didn’t give up on the play, we stayed with it and got rewarded.
“The first half was really tough. They came out really hard and gave us a fight. This was as pretty big win for us. We’ve had some real battles against Kennett, and it was nice to beat them by a little wider margin. Now we’re looking forward to Saturday.”
Kennett, who came into the match banged up and shorthanded after losing three starters to injury in their win over Boyertown, lost yet another starter, Griffin Dight, to injury early in the contest. Despite that adversity the Blue Demons played a very strategic game in the opening half and found themselves right in the thick of things.
Not long after halftime, however, it all fell apart.
“You’ve gotta play all 80 minutes,” said Kennett coach Dean Temple. “We broke down a little in the box on their first two goals and were unable to clear the ball. When you get so many people in the box that happens.
“We knew it was going to be a tough nut for us today. We gave everything we had in that first round upset. I’m proud of the kids, we had a good season. Hats off to Downingtown, they lost a lot of players to the academy before the season started and here they are having a heck of a year.”
Downingtown West’s Justin Obendorfer tacked on another goal for good measure to make it 3-0 when he scored on a nice header with 20:48 to play.
Whippets senior goalie Zach Steffen made six saves in posting his second straight shutout to start the post-season. He had a couple of key stops just moments into the second half when the match was still scoreless.
“We weren’t sharp in the first half,” said Downingtown West coach John Hatt. “Kennett was playing for a close game, that’s what they like to do and they do it well. So once we scored that first goal they had to come out a little bit and that kind of changed their mentality.”
All and all, Downingtown West has looked awfully sharp so far in its first two district games. They know they’ll have to keep that level of intensity up on Saturday against Souderton.
“We’re excited,” said Hatt. “We are playing well at the right time of the year. The way we are playing we think we have a chance against anybody.”

Downingtown West 3 Kennett 0
Kennett     0 0 -- 0
Downingtown West     0 3 -- 3
Downingtown West goals: Coper 2, Obendorfer.
Goalie saves: Giarrocco (K) 11; Steffen (DW) 7.

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