DOWNINGTOWN — As Downingtown East' s star striker Linnea Faccenda was about to strike a free kick early in Monday's high school girls soccer contest with West Chester Rustin, head coach Craig Reed yelled out to her ' Linnea, put it on goal.' She showed him, she put it in the net.
Faccenda scored twice as the Cougars rolled to their 11th straight victory with a 4-0 thumping of the Golden Knights in a battle of Ches-Mont League unbeatens.
"It was exciting,' said Reed. "It was Senior Night and the kids were ready, they were excited for the game and they played really hard. It was a team effort.'
After suffering an opening day loss to Mount St. Joseph's, the Cougars (9-0, 11-1) have been nearly unstoppable. They have done it own both ends.
Offensively, Monday was the eighth game this season they have scored two or more goals. Even more impressive is what they have done on the back end. Goalie Kaelyn Johns has not had to get the ball out of the back of her net since a 3-2 win over Avon Grove on Sept. 11.
"We listen to one another really well, so I think staying compact and paying attention to one another is important,' said senior defender and co-captain Nicole Caston.
According to Reed, the entire team should be lauded for the invisible force field around their net.
"We always say we want to defend with 11 players,' he said. "So, its not just the backs or one particular player, it's a team effort that starts up front and goes all the way back to our keeper.
"The kids work really hard and when you put in a full effort defending you get rewarded for it. So, I was pleased.'
Barely two minutes into the contest, Faccenda took off on a run that was ended when she was sandwiched by two Rustin players and was given a foul. Faccenda's sweetly struck free kick from about 25 yards, made a bee line for the top right corner and nestled into the net over the outstretched left hand of Rustin goalie Charlotte Elrod for an early 1-0 lead that seemed to give the Golden Knights a body blow from they never recovered.
"She can strike the ball really well and I think she was deciding on should she serve it or should she strike it,' said Reed. "I told her to put it on goal and she smacked it into the upper 90. It was a beautiful goal.'
"We work on free kicks every practice,' said Faccenda. "The wall was back a little bit, so I knew I had to take the shot.'
The advantage doubled with nearly seven minutes left in the half as Faccenda turned provider. Her nearly 20-yard run up the left side showcased her speed and power. Her cross found Nicole Barretta, who powered it past Elrod.
"I think we were prepared but I don't think we were focused on her and what she (Faccenda) really is,' said Rustin coach Joe Corba. "We've seen players like her and we've seen teams like this. We've been in this situation over and over again, but until you really experience it, sometimes it takes something like that to respond, and we didn't respond.'
The goal came shortly after Rustin's best chance of the game. Cait Oswald's effort was touched off the crossbar by Johns.
"That was a huge play in the game, said Reed. "She made that save and got everyone excited and then a couple of minutes later, we scored a huge goal. So, yeah, that was a big savc.'
Toward the end of the half, Faccenda notched her second of the evening off a feed from Barretta to make it 3-0 and take her total on the season past the 20-goal mark. East was economically efficient, scoring three times on five first-half shots.
Rustin showed better in the first half, earning four corner kicks, but could not get a goal. They held the Cougars off the board until the 5:10 mark when Jessica Reyer pounced on a loose ball and scored.
East stamped themselves as the class of the league, while Rustin (8-2-1) gets ready for another big clash, this time with Unionville, on Wednesday with a third straight American Division title very much in reach.
"We play again Wednesday against Unionville and that is just as big, if not bigger,' said Corba. "Winning our division, that's always job number one. The overall Ches-Mont championship has probably slipped away, but we are going to take care of business and Unionville is decent. They will give us everything they got on Wednesday, so we can't be worrying about drying tears right now.'
Downingtown East 4, W.C. Rustin 0
W.C. Rustin 0 0—0
Downingtown East 3 1—4
Downingtown East goals: Faccenda 2, Barretta, Reyer.
Goalie saves: Elrod (WCR) 1: Johns (DE) 4.