WEST GOSHEN — If you didn’t know it was Danielle Latare’s first season in goal, you would have never been able to tell in her first playoff game.
“We have tried so hard to beat Downingtown East the past two times, but we have come short a little bit, but this time we proved to ourselves that we could actually beat them and we can just push through,” she said.
Not only is this Latare’s first season as a goaltender, but it’s her first season playing the sport of ice hockey.
“Every practice I learn something new,” she said. “I literally jumped into this sport not knowing anything and here I am. It’s pretty exciting.”
Latare made 17 saves for the shutout, which was only the second of her short career.
“I’ve only had one shutout before and it was against Avon Grove,” she said. “All I think during the game is just to stop the puck, not can I get a shutout. It’s just stop the puck — just whatever I can do. I jumped like a panther on the puck a few times.”
In front of Latare, her team as a whole also put on an exceptional game and one head coach Lauren Koller is more than pleased with.
“It was awesome,” she said. “They played perfect overall. It was really cool to see it all come together. I couldn’t have asked for a better game or how they played.”
It was the perfect time for the team to pull everything together as they faced a tough test against No. 3-ranked Downingtown East.
“This was probably, by far, one of the best games of the year overall that we’ve played,” Koller said. “Everything came together that we’ve been working on all season and talked about during practice. They had the right intensity, the right focus and the right energy and came out flying.”
And that they did as just 34 seconds into the game, senior Mary Shupard tallied a goal.
East scored two more times, including short-handed, in the second period to put the team in a comfortable lead they would never relinquish.
“We’ve been talking about finding the right balance and energy and intensity and that calmness, too,” Koller said. “You don’t want to get too emotional, but still have that engagement and passion in there. They did an awesome job dialing it in and getting the right intensity and not going too crazy.”
East did run into a little bit of trouble when they took four straight penalties in the back half of the second period, but the defense and Latare stepped up to keep Downingtown East off the board.
“(Latare) was making some awesome stops and we had some great defense cutting off their players so they were getting some outside shots,”
Koller said. “She was able to see the puck. She has really stepped up for us when we needed her to and we had some awesome defense to help her out, too. It was a great team effort all the way around.”
West Chester East will face Lansdale Catholic in the semifinals Thursday night.