Facing a two-goal deficit with just 5:30 left in the game, Unionville’s big players stepped up when they were needed most, and in a span of just 71 seconds, scored three goals to win 5-4.
“To be honest, I really wasn’t that worried (being down by two) and I told the boys on the bench to relax and play the game out the full 48 minutes,” said head coach Nicholas Basilio. “Throughout the game, we just weren’t putting the puck in the net and it was a matter of time before the big players were going to make the big plays — and they did.”
It was also the first time Unionville had the lead the entire game.
The third-seeded Indians found themselves down by a goal 23 seconds into the game off a goal from Skylar Swavely.
Eleventh-seeded Crestwood tacked on another just under halfway through the second for a two-goal lead before Unionville tied it up with two goals five minutes apart from Parker Wine and Danny Hargadon.
“(Crestwood) had a couple players that just came out a little quick and once they got the first goal, it was huge,” Wine said. “They had momentum from the start and they just held that until the second. We got our first goal and when that happened, we got our momentum back.”
Just when Unionville thought it could gain some momentum in the third period, Crestwood came back out and took the lead again, this time 74 seconds in before tacking on another halfway through the period.
“We came out flat and gave up a goal in the first minute, which was not good,” Basilio said. “The first line, actually, gave up three or four goals tonight when they were on the ice at the end of their shifts. They were tired and our defense was tired with them, so we got caught in a couple of shift changes, but that’s part of hockey.”
Being down by two again left some of the players a bit stunned.
“Once we got the momentum back, we thought we were looking good, but then they popped two in and it definitely dropped us down a little bit,” Wine said.
Despite the deficit for the second time in the game, Basilio never broke a sweat on the bench, keeping his players cool and collected.
The coaches also found a hole in Crestwood’s game and made sure their team paid attention to it and used it to their advantage.
“(Crestwood) did a great job at tying up the offside forward, but that leaves someone else open and we took advantage of that,” Basilio said. “We saw it, discussed it on the bench throughout the game what they were doing and it was a matter of time before we were going to pump goals in.”
With 5:27 left in the game, Wine and Hargadon put two in the net 38 seconds apart to tie things up and force Crestwood to use its timeout, but even that didn’t stop Unionville’s momentum.
Wine completed his hat trick 33 seconds later to give his team the lead and the eventual win.
“It happened so quickly,” he said. “It was just great to get the victory. Nothing can really explain it. Being a senior, it’s all on the line with everything at that point.”
The game was not only a confidence booster for Unionville heading into the semifinals, but also a lesson for the Indians, who now face an even tougher opponent in West Chester Rustin, the defending state champions.
“That was a nice comeback and a little bit of a confidence builder for us going into the next one knowing that you don’t have to be up the whole game,” Basilio said. “We’ve gone into this thinking we can beat anybody. It’s anybody’s tournament — anybody can upset anybody in a one-game series at any time. Maybe for the first time this season, everyone is healthy. We know what we’re up against. It will be different, but we have confidence and that means a lot. We can beat Rustin again.”
West Chester Rustin 4, Hershey 2
Rustin may have come out with the win over seventh-seeded Hershey, but it didn’t happen the way head coach Nick Russo would have liked.
After going up 4-0 in the first half of the first period, Rustin, the second seed in the A tournament, became a little too comfortable with its lead and let Hershey get two goals by goaltender Jason Grande in the third period.
“They were talking about 10-goaling (Hershey),” Russo said. “I went up to Hershey to watch them play. I knew they weren’t going to quite. The game plan originally was to make their goalie move from side to side and almost all our goals were (on that). They decided the next 40 shots they were going to shoot it right at them.”
It’s the type of game Rustin cannot afford to play in the semifinals against Unionville after the Indians made a three-goal comeback late in the third period of their game earlier in the night, but Russo is not concerned this game will roll over into Wednesday’s.
“We didn’t have a great game against (West Chester) Henderson in the Ches-Mont (playoffs) and then came back with two really good games,” Russo said. “That’s what we need to do now with the same game plan.”
It almost seems as though Rustin needs a bad game in its tournament run to become the “kick in the butt” needed to propel itself to the championship game and a possible third state title in three years.
“Traditionally if you look at us, we always have that one game that’s a stinker in the Flyers Cup, but luckily we’ve been able to pull them out,” Russo said. “It’s just weird. We always have that one. It’s a wake-up call.”
Girls Varsity playoffs
West Chester East 5, Downingtown East 1: East goaltender Danielle Latare, in only her second season as a hockey player, stopped 18 of 19 shots sent her way by fifth-seeded D-East. The Vikings, a four seed, had contributions from four different players in the opening-round game. East will face Unionville in the semifinals.
Unionville 10, Owen J. Roberts 2: Every player on top-seeded Unionville who scored did so twice. Lizzy Gaebel led the way for her team against eighth-seeded Owen J. Roberts in five points. Kaelen Speck and Kaitlyn Anderson were close behind with four points each. Unionville out-shot the Wildcats 49-5.
Downingtown West 11, Bishop Shanahan 7: D-West’s Samantha Schultz and Elizabeth D’Ginto both notched hat tricks in their win over seventh-seeded Shanahan. Both also had two assists each for five total points on the night. For Shanahan, Mikaila Rubin scored five of her team’s goals against the second seed. Christine Lampron scored the other two goals for the Eagles. D-West will face Lansdale Catholic in the semifinals.