Harriton tops Unionville in the first round of the District 1 playoffs
● By Steven Hoffman
Harriton scored two goals in the second half to defeat Unionville, 2-1, in the opening round of the District 1 playoffs on Oct. 23.
The Indians, who finished atop the American Division standings in the Ches-Mont League with an 11-1 record during the regular season, played a very strong game, especially in the first half when they tallied more shots on goal and corner kicks than the visiting Harriton Rams.
Harriton entered the District 1 playoffs as the 24th seed, but they were a very tough draw for the ninth-seeded Unionville Indians. Harriton made it to the District playoffs last year, and lost just one senior from that squad, so they have plenty of experience in big games.
For long stretches of the first half, Unionville controlled the flow of the game. The efforts of players like Makayla Bucci, Lyndsey Barrett, Julia Capperella, Mackenzie Malloy, and Jackie Hug helped keep Unionville’s offense on the attack by winning the battle for the possession of the ball time after time. Strong play by Unionville in the middle of the field limited Harriton’s ability to move the ball up the field so that they could get their own scoring opportunities.
With about 16:45 left in the first half, Unionville’s Claire Matson booted a nice shot on goal, but Harriton goalkeeper Lexy Calhoun made the stop.
The Rams managed one clean shot on goal with 7:20 to play in the first half, but Unionville goalkeeper Zoe Gill-Gorenc made a great save.
In the final minute of the first half, Unionville’s offense made one more charge, but they couldn’t come up with the goal and the game remained scoreless after 40 minutes of play.
When one team is able to maintain consistent offensive pressure, it often pays off. Unionville finally broke through early in the second half when, with 34:10 left to play in the game, standout sophomore Sara Darlington took advantage of Harriton’s inability to clear the ball in front of the goal and kicked the ball into the goal.
The lead wouldn’t stand up for long. At the 31:49 mark, Harriton answered back when Gabriela Mazzoni, on a free kick, booted the ball just over the head, and beyond the reach, of Unionville goalkeeper Zoe Gill-Gorenc.
The swing in momentum was instantaneous, as Harriton started to control the flow of play. With 23:45 left in the game, Harriton’s Ashley Wald delivered what would turn out to be the difference-maker as she worked her way behind Unionville’s defense and put the ball in the goal with a header.
Now holding a 2-1 lead, the momentum tilted in Harriton’s favor.
Unionville managed a few more scoring opportunities—with 18:28 to play, Hayden Wilson took a shot on goal that was scooped up by Calhoun, and with 13:45 to play Darlington raced past the Harriton defense to get a scoring chance in front of the goal, but Calhoun once again turned away the threat. Calhoun’s strong game played a part in Harriton’s win. She made nine saves during the game, including one that she made while laying flat on the ground.
In the closing minutes of the contest, Harriton was able to maintain possession of the ball and keep Unionville from creating a good scoring opportunity. The Rams held on for the 2-1 win.