By CANDICE MONHOLLAN
WEST GOSHEN – One look at the score sheet from the Flyers Cup Girls championship game and one name stuck out: Downingtown East’s Katie Stueve.
Unionville was going for its fifth straight Flyers Cup title, but the five that carried the night was representative of Stueve’s point total. The junior defenseman scored four goals and added an assist as the Cougars ended the Indians’ reign with a 6-4 victory at Ice Line on Wednesday.
“I was a little nervous just because of the past years,” Stueve, named the tournament MVP, said. “We came into the last game strong and it carried over into this game. I felt like (the puck) was always near me.
“It was unreal. This has been one of my best games this season. I’ve dreamed about winning the MVP since I was a freshman … and this year, I got it.”
It’s been a long road for Stueve to get to this point and head coach Deby Larson knew the time would come for her to shine and earn the hardware.
“She wanted it,” Larson said. “She’s been there through these past couple losses against Unionville. She wanted it bad and knew she had to be patient and she did and played her heart out.”
Before the game was five minutes old, Stueve, who had 40 goals during the regular season, beat one defender and took a shot which hit the post. Unionville goaltender Lillian Jones lost sight of the puck and before she could recover, freshman forward Maddie Allen poked it in.
Unionville got the equalizer with time winding down in the first. Downingtown East tried to clear its zone, but junior forward Rashelle Terrey swooped across the blue line and sent a bouncing shot toward
the net, which senior Jordan Hagerty got enough of to re-direct into the net at 12:08.
There is no doubting Stueve’s speed, which was clearly on display in the game, including on her first goal. With three Unionville skaters trying to catch her, Stueve flicked the puck by Jones a little than a minute into the second.
She followed up 48 seconds later by keeping the play alive, then skating out to the slot to snap the puck into net.
Downingtown East built on the lead when senior defenseman Natalie Alvaro’s shot from the high slot bounced off a stick and went over Jones’ shoulder for a 4-1 lead nine minutes into the second.
But Unionville, which has shown before the ability to fight back in a game, did just that in the final 3:30 of the period.
With the team applying more pressure in Downingtown East’s end, Hagerty backhanded a shot on freshman goaltender Emma Shannon, which she was never able to control and found its way into the back of the net.
Junior defenseman Catherine Ward, who just moments before was switched to play a forward position, skated parallel to the net looking for a play and threw the puck on net and it went in 57 seconds after
Unionville wasn’t done yet as an outlet pass from Ward sprung freshman defenseman Sierra Dycio to skate down the wing and fire from the middle of the right circle to tie it at 4-4 with 41.7 seconds left in the period.
“I told them when we were tied that we were winning this game,” Larson said. “They turned it around. It was an all-around team effort.”
Unionville thought they had the go-ahead goal early into the third when Ward’s shot hit the post and cross the red line before Shannon could put her glove on it, but the referee waved it off.
After that, Stueve put Unionville ahead to stay after a tumble at the blue line allowed her to steal the puck and easily skate in alone on Jones. She deked to her backhand and slipped it into the net to complete her hat trick.
She tacked on one more moments later to seal the championship.
“We played them last year in the championships and they were able to beat us,” Larson said. “We had a lot of young players this year and I told them this was it. This was (their) year and to take advantage of it.”
Downingtown East 6, Unionville 4
Downingtown East 1 3 2– 6
Unionville 1 3 0– 4
Downingtown East goals: Allen, Stueve 4, Alvaro.
Unionville goals: Hagerty 2, Ward, Dycio.
Goalie saves: Shannon (DE) 10. Jones (U) 24.