WEST GOSHEN - What has already been an outstanding season for the West Chester Henderson High School boys soccer team got even better on Tuesday night.
The Ches-Mont League National Division champion Warriors won a post-season game for the first time in what was believed to be nearly a decade.
They did it easily, too.
Henderson, the No. 5 seed, rolled to an impressive 5-1 home victory over No. 28 Interboro in their opening round District 1 Class AAA playoff game at J. Oscar Dicks Stadium.
Senior midfielder Anthony Daniele led the offensive outburst with a game-high two goals, and senior goalie Todd Morton made seven saves to highlight a strong effort on defense. The Warriors were in control throughout, as they held a commanding 3-0 lead early in the second half en route to the easy win.
"This season has been a dream come true already,' said Morton. "It's just been a blast. We worked hard all offseason with the hopes of accomplishing things that this program hasn't done in a while.
"This is the first time we've won a district playoff game in my four years here, and it's the first time we've done it in about eight or nine years. We have great chemistry on this team and we're hoping to keep this thing going as far as we can.'
West Chester Henderson (15-3-1 overall) now advances to the second round of the district tournament, and a showdown on Thursday night with fellow Ches-Mont League foe Unionville. They tied 0-0 against the No. 12 seeded Indians earlier this fall in a regular-season match.
On Tuesday night it took the Warriors a little while to settle in and get rolling in the face of a pressure-packed playoff game where the loser sees its season come to a close.
Henderson grabbed the all-important first goal of the match with 28:17 remaining in the first half as senior Jack McCann scored to make it 1-0. It was a fortunate goal to get, as Interboro goalie Chase Rodriquez (seven saves) initially made a stop on a routine shot. However, he didn't field it cleanly, instead yielding a rebound and McCann was right there to grab the ball and fire it into the net for an easy score.
That goal would be it for a while, as the match remained tight for much of the first half until Henderson grabbed a 2-0 lead and some breathing room late in the opening stanza.
They did it on a direct kick from about 40 yards out with 4:42 to go in the first. Daniele struck the kick onto goal from distance, and amidst a scrum in the box, the ball ended up going into the net for the goal without actually being touched or deflected.
The Warriors then came out strong to start the second half, increasing their advantage to 3-0 with 37:46 left on a goal by senior defender Andrew Richardson.
"We played tight at the start — had some butterflies,' said Henderson coach Sean Ryan. "We didn't play our best early on and Interboro deserves a lot of credit for that.
"We got a couple of breaks on those first two goals, and then that goal early in the second half was crucial.'
Not long after going down by three goals, Interboro was awarded a questionable penalty kick and capitalized to cut the deficit to 3-1 with 30:59 remaining.
Interboro's Roberto Sanchez was stoned by Morton on the penalty kick attempt. However, the hard hit shot produced a rebound, bouncing right back to Sanchez who knocked it home for the score.
That would be as close as the visitors would get, though. Henderson upped its cushion to 4-1 with 18:28 left when Daniele scored his second goal of the night, this time on a breakaway.
Then with 10:06 left on the clock, the Warriors rounded out the scoring on a great goal that was headed in by Tyler McCabe.
Henderson was fantastic defensively in the match, as they have been most of the season. Led by defenders Vince Feola, Joey Benzing and Zach Roberts, the Warriors didn't allow much of any quality scoring opportunities.
Henderson's victory capped a great night for the Ches-Mont as a whole in the opening round of districts, as the league went 4-0 overall. Unionville, Downingtown West and West Chester Rustin also won. In addition, undefeated and top-seeded Great Valley had a bye in the first round.
"To get a win in the first round is huge for us,' said Ryan. "I'm really happy for the boys, because they have put in a lot of work and have made a lot of commitments to this team.
"But at the same time, we have to stay focused. We're not satisfied.'
W.C. Henderson 5, Interboro 1
Interboro 0 1 — 1
W.C. Henderson 2 3 — 5
Interboro goal: Sanchez.
W.C. Henderson goals: Daniele 2, McCann, Richardson, McCabe.
Goalie saves: Rodriquez (INT) 7; Weldon (INT) 2; Morton (WCH) 7; Wood (WCH) 0.