By JEFF KERR
WARMINSTER -- One inch away.
That's how close Downingtown East forward Linnea Faccenda was to sending the game to overtime. Instead, the Cougars were left wondering what could have been.
Faccenda's blast in the 77th minute from the left side beat Spring-Ford goalkeeper Jenna Griggs, but hit the top of the crossbar and deflected to hit the left post; resulting in no goal as (1-2) Downingtown East fell 1-0 to (1-5) Spring-Ford in a PIAA quarterfinal girls soccer match at William Tennent High School on Saturday afternoon.
Soccer isn't usually defined by a game of inches, but Downingtown East (19-4) can make an exception.
"Linnea found a way to get loose there after being marked tight all game,' Downingtown East head coach Craig Reed said. "She just missed by an inch. If that ball bounces the other way, its 1-1 and we're
going to overtime.'
The shot by Faccenda was part of a furious rally by the Cougars to get the equalizing goal after Aley Kate McKinley scored the eventual game-winner in the 62nd minute to put the Rams (23-2-1) up 1-0. Spring-Ford continued to apply pressure after scoring the game's only goal and had a chance to put East away on a penalty kick in the 77th. Then goalkeeper Kaelyn Johns made the save of the game. Johns denied Sarah Hancock's shot to the right of the net and kept the deficit at one goal.
"That save was definitely a momentum shift for sure,' Reed said. "We knew we had to go for it at that point. Our team has had character all year and I had the confidence that maybe would get one. We just came up a little bit short.'
Spring-Ford had chances to break the game open in the first half, but the Cougars backfield prevented the Rams from taking a lead at halftime.
Johns had the highlight save of the half as she denied midfielder Megan Giannopoulos' blast from the left side in the eighth minute to keep the game scoreless.
The Rams neutralized Faccenda for most of the game using two, sometimes three, defenders to prevent the 40-goal scorer from getting in open field or scoring on a breakaway. The strategy paid off as it kept
the Cougars from taking an early lead.
"They're a terrific team from front to back and marked her well,' Reed said. "They controlled the possession for the majority of the game, but Linnea fought hard just like she did all year. She played well
The loss ends one of the best seasons in Downingtown East history. The Cougars won the Ches-Mont title, finished second in District 1 and won their first PIAA state playoff game.
As for Faccenda, she finishes her stellar senior campaign with 40 goals in 23 games.
It was a fantastic season for a team few thought would be playing in November over the summer.
"This season was full of highlights and there wasn't a ton of expectations,' Reed said. "I couldn't be more proud of the girls and thought they worked hard all year long. They had a great year.'
Spring Ford 1, Downingtown East 0
Spring-Ford 0 1--1
Downingtown East 0 0--0
Spring-Ford goal: McKinley.
Goalie saves: Griggs (SF) 1; Johns (DE) 6.