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Downingtown East falls short in state semifinals

By Matt Chandik
Phillylacrosse.com

WEST CHESTER – If all goes well for Springfield-Delco on Saturday, the third time will have been the charm.

Bailey O’Brien’s third goal of the game came on an 8-meter with 43.1 seconds to play as the Cougars bested Downingtown East, 12-11, in Tuesday’s PIAA Class AAA semifinal at West Chester Henderson. Springfield takes on Archbishop Carroll, a 13-11 winner over Garnet Valley, Saturday at noon at West Chester East for the state championship.

Springfield-Delco’s Erika Biehl

Carroll will be making their first state title game appearance, but it won’t be uncharted waters for the Cougars. Springfield (20-4) also reached the final in 2010 and again in 2014, but it seeks its first championship.

“It’s crazy. It’s so exciting,” said Springfield-Delco defender Erika Biehl. “We want to make a name for ourselves, so it’s great. It’s going to be amazing. I just hope we pull one out.”

They did just that against Downingtown East. Tied at six at the half, Springfield pushed its lead to two goals when Bridget Whitaker (three goals) and Maggie O’Connell (two goals) scored back-to-back, but Tori Barretta (three goals) and Kira Flynn (three goals) responded in kind to knot the game back up.

O’Brien gave Springfield the lead back with 5:14 to play, but the game looked ticketed for overtime when Livi Lawton (three goals, two assists) buried an 8-meter with 2:35 to go.

That was O’Brien’s cue to shine. Springfield got the ball back and drained the clock, and when O’Brien got put on the line, the Coastal Carolina recruit never flinched as she sent a high bouncer under the crossbar for the game-winner.

“We didn’t really have anybody in mind that we wanted to score the goal,” O’Brien said. “Once it got under one minute (to play), we knew that we all had the green light to go and I ended up with it. We focused on shooting at (Downingtown East goalie Emily Robinson’s) hips or below. I took a bounce shot and it ended up going high.”

The plucky Downingtown East (17-9) team never relented, but didn’t get a chance to get the ball back after Springfield corralled the draw. Despite that, the Cougars’ relentless effort was the reason why they had a chance to come back until the very end.

“It was definitely nerve-wracking,” Whitaker said. “They played until the last second. I think it was just the draws and whoever won possession at the end of the game. If we got the draw, we scored. If they got it, they scored. It was a matter of who wanted it more in the end.”

Springfield-Delco’s Bailey O’Brien

“They had momentum at the end,” Lawton explained. “They got the draw at the end. The game was going back and forth until the end. We had big momentum at the end of the first half, but didn’t capitalize on it that much. In the end, they just got the winning goal.”

Springfield, Delco 12, Downingtown East 11
Downingtown East    6-5-11
Springfield (Delco)    6-6-12

Downingtown East 
Livi Lawton 3g, 2a
Tori Barretta 3g
Kira Flynn 3g
Emily Wurzel 2g
Elise Person 1a
Emily Robinson 5 saves

Springfield-Delco 
Bailey O’Brien 3g
Bridget Whitaker 3g
Maggie O’Connell 2g
Olivia Little 1g
Dana Carlson 1g
Alyssa Long 1g
Olivia Pace 1g
Belle Mastropietro 1a
Julianne Clemens 7 saves

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