ASTON — It can be difficult to battle back from a deficit, but Downingtown West was able to accomplish it — twice, in fact — to win 7-6 over Conestoga in a girls varsity game Thursday night at IceWorks.
“I was proud of the way they played,” said Downingtown West head coach Robert Fleming. “They didn’t give up. We’ve been working on that. We’ve had a lot of games where they start to hang their heads and they didn’t do that this game. I was happy about that.”
Leading the charge for the Whippets (4-7) was freshman Delaney Carle, who finished the night with five goals, including the game winner with just over three minutes left in the game.
“It was kind of hard to score on the goalie,” Carle said. “You had to try a lot.”
Fleming had nothing but praise for his young forward.
“She is maturing and is still young, but she stays in every game,” he said. “Unless she’s deathly ill, she’s in the game up until the very end.”
And the Whippets needed her to be in the game as they faced a tough Conestoga (3-6) team boasting the likes of junior forward Michaela Caldwell.
Caldwell, who currently leads all girls with 37 goals in just nine games, couldn’t be shut down as much as Downingtown West tried.
“She’s great and a good player,” Fleming said of Caldwell. “Who wouldn’t love to have a bench full of her? There’s also depth around her. It’s a matter of, fortunately being the home team, and trying to make the match-up and get that last change.
“You can only contain her and that’s it. You can’t control her — you can only contain her. Going into it, the girls knew what they were up against.”
Caldwell accounted for all six Conestoga goals on the night in every way imaginable — on breakaways, finishing off plays and off great passes from teammates.
Though she could have had a lot more if not for some defensive work from Downingtown West.
“The one change that we did make was we put Anna Spatola up as a forward,” Fleming said. “She was playing defense for us in the first part of the year. She’s a little firebug out there and is all over the ice. When I tell her to go get the puck away from No. 44 (Caldwell), she does it — well, she’ll try. She may not always be successful, but she’ll give it everything she has.”
Spatola’s work went a long way in helping the comeback be successful.
Downingtown West first had to climb out of a 3-1 hole to start the second period and then a 6-3 deficit in the closing minute of the third.
“There was a lot of time left, so we knew we could come back,” Carle said.
Junior forward Elizabeth D’Ginto sparked the comeback with a her second goal of the game with just 7.4 seconds left in the second period.
“Good players make other players around them better and that’s Liz,” Fleming said. “She made passes today that were just incredible to setup other teammates, regardless of whether we executed them or not. She’s just a phenomenal teammate to have.”
From that point on, Downingtown West took the reins and scored three more in the final frame to win the game.
“It feels good because we haven’t won in a while and we lost to this team last time,” Carle said.
For the Whippets, it was their first win since before the Christmas break and only their fourth of the season.
“(The girls) know that wins comes in bunches and so does losses,” Fleming said. “Once they realized it was just one game and that was yesterday and we have today, they’re fine. The attitude in the locker room would have been the same whether a win or a loss. They’re still having fun, enjoying it, learning and growing. As long as you’re still doing that, the outcome of the game is almost secondary.”