WEST GOSHEN — With every step West Chester Henderson takes, it’s only going to get harder, and they all know it.
That included the Flyers Cup A Quarterfinals game against West Chester East where the Warriors had to battle back twice in a 6-3 win Tuesday night at Ice Line.
“We told them before it was going to happen,” said Henderson head coach Scott DiRico. “They would have to play against a lot of adversity and they did that. They just kept playing. They stuck to it and then once we got up, they really just stuck to it and played what we asked them to do.
Even after a rough start that saw two goals go against Henderson on a power play and a missed call, the team continued to fight.
“I don’t like to say anything about reffing, but it was a tough call,” DiRico said. “We had a penalty against us and a goal and then they went up 2-1 on an offsides call that they missed. But our guys battled back.
“The start was tough, but they knew they were going to have adversity. You can’t, at this point in the year, cruise through any game and you’re going to have to battle. They did a great job of that.”
The players knew they had the ability and skill to retake the lead, even with a tough goaltender in Joe Stacy.
“They have a good goaltender, so sometimes it’s hard to get by them,” said Henderson forward Eric Beren. “Eventually we started to get a lot of rebounds and started to put those in and kept working hard.”
The game was night and day to Henderson’s tournament opening game against Lower Dauphin a week before, though the outcome was still the same then.
“It was a much better effort tonight,” DiRico said. “We had a practice yesterday and got back to basics and put a gamepan into place that we knew was going to work.”
The Warriors may have felt a little cocky heading into the previous game, but knew they couldn’t have the same mentality against a team which beat them twice during the regular season.
“Obviously with both West Chester East and Henderson, their attitudes toward the game are different,” DiRico said. “It’s a rivalry game. They know how good each other is, so they get up for it. There was definitely a different mentality going into tonight. They had to play their best, so they did.”
The hard work and spirit of the team doesn’t go unnoticed by the coaching staff and it shows itself on the ice in games such as Tuesday night.
“It starts with a good, core senior class of leaders and it trickles down,” DiRico said. “They all play for each other. It’s 20 guys that will play for each other and every one of them know they are capable of playing at any point when their number is called.
“They don’t panic and they don’t worry. They know if they keep playing hard, things will happen. If they don’t, they’re okay because they know they’re going to put their best effort in.”
Beren echoed his coach’s sentiments.
“We all play for each other and everyone plays hard,” he said. “We have a lot of seniors, so it’s crazy that any game could be our last. We all just don’t want that to happen, so we work hard every game.”
Part of that never-say-die attitude, which has stepped up more in the postseason, could be partially attributed to Henderson’s low seeding in the tournament.
“We saw we were a nine-seed for the Flyers Cup and none of us agreed with that at all,” Beren said. “We had to prove to people that we weren’t.”
Henderson will now play Springfield, a team it didn’t play at any point during the season, but that doesn’t matter to the players or coaches.
It’s the same gameplan —it’s simple strategy and different systems that we try to put in place that they’re effective regardless of who we play,” DiRico said. “Our goal is to literally make teams play the way we want them to play. We’ll try to do that and we’ll probably have to adjust as we go. It’s another game. We’ve earned our chance to play one more game, so we’ll play Thursday for another chance to play again.”
West Chester Rustin 2, Unionville 1 (OT)
He has been a clutch player for all of his high school career and Tuesday night was no different as West Chester Rustin junior Brett Christie scored a 5-on-3 power-play goal in overtime in a 2-1 win over Unionville at Ice Line.
“It was kind of a gift against a great team to have a 5-on-3 in overtime,” said Rustin head coach Nick Russo. “You just kind of want to tell the guys to be patient and take the good opportunities and that’s what they did and we pulled it out.”
It was a battle up until the end, especially between the goaltenders as Unionville’s Michael Hansen made numerous saves while Rustin’s Jason Grande did the same on the other end.
“It’s always a defensive struggle with (Unionville),” Russo said. “They’re well coached and you know one or two goals is going to win it.”
Rustin will face unknown Crestwood, out of the Scranton area, which has become the darkhorse of the A bracket, in the semifinals, but that doesn’t concern Rustin.
“We have video of their last three games, so we’ll go off of that,” Russo said. “We have film on them and they don’t have film on us. It’s going to be a long night — like Chip Kelly’s office in my basement — the next 24 hours with a lot of coffee and a lot of pizza. We’ll figure it out.”