WEST GOSHEN – Even with a team short five members for the Flyers Cup, the Unionville High School girls ice hockey team continued to roll through the season, this time knocking out West Chester East by a final of 6-0 in the semifinal round on Monday night at IceLine.
With a shortened bench due to the rules of the tournament (only high school players are eligible), the girls made sure they were more focused than usual coming into the game.
“We took our warm-ups a lot more seriously and just tried to stay focused,” said forward Sarah O’Neill. “We knew that it was going to be difficult. We weren’t sure how it was going to go since we were missing a lot of our top players, but we’re really happy it turned out the way it did.”
It worked as Unionville threw 52 shots at senior goaltender Charlotte Dufoe.
Leading the way were juniors O’Neill and Catherine Ward, who were named the best forward and defenseman in the game by head coach Fred Henjes.
Both had two goals and an assist on the night.
“I just put myself in front of the net and looked from open passes from Jordan [Hagerty] and Sierra [Dycio] or whoever else was up there,” O’Neill said.
With facing only about one shot from West Chester East to Unionville’s 11, it can be tough for a goaltender to keep focused and sharp in a game, but the coaches would check with Lillian Jones during the two intermissions and timeout.
“In between periods we talked,” said assistant coach Dave Elvin. “It is a lot for a goaltender to stay in the game mentally when you have that situation. We certainly try to work our best to work the mental aspect of the game as well.”
And it worked as though she faced only four shots, Jones stopped each one for the shutout.
On the other side of things, it also took some time for Unionville to crack Dufoe and when they finally looked to have done it, it didn’t count.
Dufoe was unable to cover the puck off a shot from Dycio and Ward crashed the net and pushed the loose put past the line, but the whistle had blown just beforehand to stop the play because the net had come off with just over two minutes left in the first.
“We knew we were going to need a lot of shots on net to score goals,” Henjes said. “It took us a long time to get the first one in, but we found the recipe down the stretch.”
But it didn’t deter Unionville as they broke through again 32 seconds later, and this time it counted.
Ward’s point shot was re-directed on net by junior forward Emily Anderson, but Dufoe made the initial save. However, with O’Neill on the doorstep, she chipped the puck by on the 18th shot of the period for Unionville.
The second period didn’t slow Unionville down at all. A West Chester East defender tried to get the puck out of her end, but it slid to Ward, who skated out from the wall and straight down the slot before snapping it by Dufoe at 10:35.
Right off the faceoff, Dycio threw the puck on net. Dufoe got enough of it to block it from going on, but the puck slid by and O’Neill, planted at the side of the net, easily pushed it across the line just under three minutes later.
Ward scored her second of the night on the power play. She kept the puck in at the blue line, skated over to the high slot and let it rip at 9:05 of the third for a 4-0 lead.
Dycio and Hagerty added goals of their own 89 seconds apart late in the game.
Unionville will face Downingtown East for the title of Flyers Cup champions Wednesday night.
“We’ve got a lot of girls in the locker room that have played in several Flyers Cups and have won several Flyers Cup, so they know what it’s all about,” Henjes said. “It’s just a matter of staying focused and not getting ahead of themselves and playing like they’re capable of playing, which is shooting the puck, strong defense and very good goaltending.”
Unionville 6, W.C. East 0
Unionville 1 2 3 -- 6
West Chester East 0 0 0 -- 0
Unionville goals: O’Neill 2, Ward 2, Dycio, Hagerty.
Goalie saves: Jones (U) 4; Dufor (WCE) 46.