This article can be found published in the Sept. 18, 2014, edition of the Daily Local News.
WEST GOSHEN — It’s been a week Downingtown West boys soccer wants to build on.
After losing two one-goal games on Sept. 9 and 11, the Whippets changed their fortunes and capped off a winning week with a 4-3 victory over West Chester East on Thursday afternoon.
“It was an important week for us,” Downingtown West head coach John Hatt said. “We got to league victories this week, so we’re heading in the right direction, for sure.”
The Whippets fell behind quickly, despite a clock malfunction, Eric Drew score to put West into a quick hole.
Once the clock issue was settled, the Whippets pushed immediately back against the Vikings.
In the 12th minute, senior forward Mauricio Nava tied the game after catching East’s goalkeeper Matt Grenell on his stomach.
Just seven minutes later, senior forward Eric Case, waiting between two defenders, got the ball and was able to get it just by Grenell’s outstretched fingertips.
“We had a hard time early in the season finding our forwards,” Hatt said. “(Now), we get them the ball at the right times and they’re good players and we have better chances of scoring goals. We just have to get them the ball.”
Downingtown West kept the pressure up, disrupting anything the Vikings were trying to do on the field until Case tacked on his second of the game with 22.2 seconds remaining in the first half to go up 3-1.
“It’s always a curse, in a sense, to score so early,” West Chester East head coach David Flamer said. “It’s one of those things where we made too many errors in the back and unfortunately, we didn’t score enough goals.”
The Whippets came back out in the second half and picked up right where they left off with three quick scoring chances.
That seemed to be the spark the Vikings needed to tilt the field in their favor.
“This whole season, we start off a little nonchalant,” Flamer said. “I don’t know what it is. You need to kill the game off in the beginning of the game, not wait for them to put a couple in and then go, ‘All right, it’s time to play.’”
In the 54th minute of the game, West Chester East was finally able to break through again.
Second-half goalkeeper John Luciani was unable to keep a hold of the ball and East senior Jacob Heuman stole it to kick into the empty net.
But the one-goal deficit was short lived as a penalty kick was awarded to Downingtown West’s Austin Graf less than a minute later and he made sure not to miss, extended the Whippets’ lead to 4-2.
From that point on, it was a frantic pace for the Vikings as they desperately tried to climb back into the game, and they came close to goals on a couple of occasions, none as much as the one which will haunt Heuman in his sleep.
After getting past the keeper and with an open net in front and pressure from behind, his kick bounced off the post with six minutes left to play.
“We just need to finish our chances and score and concede less,” Flamer said. “Honestly, I think we’re one of the best teams in the area, but unfortunately, it’s the little things, the little details. Unfortunately today, we just couldn’t put it together.”
The Vikings were able to get a third goal, but this one came with just 1:37 left in the game after senior Baley Federico converted on a corner kick, but the Whippets were able to eat up the remaining time to hold onto the win.
“Nobody remembers how the game was played,” Hatt said. “What counts is what’s on the board at the end and fortunately, we came out on top.
“It’s a credit to the kids. We had a tough week last week and they bounced back. The kids showed character. They deserve all the credit for what we did so far this week.”