DOWNINGTOWN - Downingtown West goalie Alex Ataaiifar saw the game come down to him and Downingtown East's Will Umberger.
No pressure on the line. Just a chance for the Whippets to finish off the upset of their crosstown rival.
"I just thought I needed to bait the ball and hope Will caught it,' Ataaiifar said. "I needed to save that ball. This game wasn't going to overtime. It was too risky.'
With 14 seconds left, Umberger stole a pass and set himself up for a 1-on-1 with Ataaiifar for the tie. Ataaiifar stood tall and deflected Umberger's shot as Downingtown West held on to defeat Downingtown East 6-5 in a Ches-Mont thriller at DiSerafino Stadium Tuesday night.
Downingtown West head coach Tom Slate was trying to call a time out before Umberger's interception to prevent that 1-on-1 scenario. He was thankful to have Ataaiifar to prevent a total collapse.
"Alex bailed us out again,' Slate said. "He had probably 5 to 10 saves that should have been goals and that's the way he plays. He made some great saves tonight and kept us in the game.'
The win was just the second for the Whippets (2-3, 2-6) this season and by far the biggest for a young team starting to gain confidence in the second half.
Hunter Lewis and Jake Barr each scored two goals as Downingtown West built a shocking 6-2 lead after three quarters.
"It was just an awesome effort on both sides of the field,' Lewis said. "Both the offense and defense were just executing and doing what we do best. We just played our game.'
Downingtown East (4-2, 6-5) showed its frustration after having multiple possessions end up scoreless, but was still in striking distance.
The Cougars didn't panic. Instead, they rallied.
Umberger blasted a shot past Ataaiifar to get the Cougars within 6-3 with 10:33 left. Mike Risser followed on a strong pass from Nolan Little to cut the deficit to 6-4 two minutes later.
With East having all the momentum on its side (including the strong wind coming in), West could feel them hitting their stride in the closing minutes.
Risser got the Cougars to within one with a one-timer past Ataaiifar at the 4:17 mark. That was the first time East trailed by a goal since early in the second quarter.
Once the Cougars earned the opportunity for the tie, there was Ataaiifar making his 11th and biggest save of the night as West pulled off one of the biggest upsets in the Ches-Mont this season.
"I just tried to put us in the best spot to keep the win,' Ataaiifar said. "I'll consider it an upset. It's always great to beat East. I didn't know if we'd do it my senior year, but I'm just glad to be a part of it.'
With his two goals, Risser has seven on the season for East. The loss sends the Cougars (4-2, 6-5) two games back of Avon Grove and Bishop Shanahan in the loss column of the Ches-Mont standings.
While East looks to fight for its league title hopes against Avon Grove Thursday, Downingtown West has won two of its last three. Things are finally starting to gel for Slate's young team.
"We got the talent and (the coaching staff) has been telling them that,' Slate said. "It's just the matter of sticking to the system and playing for four quarters. This win was important for the kids and one of our goals was to beat our rival. This was a piece of what we hope to accomplish here.'
Downingtown West 6, Downingtown East 5
Downingtown East 1 1 0 3—5
Downingtown West 2 2 2 0—6
Downingtown East goals: Risser 2, Stata, Riehl, Umberger.
Downingtown West goals: Lewis 2, Barr 2, Meleski, Carstens.
Goalie saves: Marx (DE) 4, Wilson (DE) 3; Ataaiifar (DW) 11.