By BILL RUDICK
WEST CHESTER — From the outset of Friday's District 1 Class AAA Field Hockey quarterfinal, the Central Bucks West coaching staff could be heard screaming, "Find Five! Find Five!.' The five in question is West Chester Henderson's all-everything player Katie O'Donnell.
The "neutralize five' strategy worked, but only to a degree. O'Donnell, for one of the few times this year, was kept out of the cage. No matter, though, up stepped Susannah Pitts, who scored both goals as the top-seeded Warriors knocked off No. 8 Central Bucks West, 2-1, to advance to Wednesday's semifinals against No. 4 Owen J. Roberts, a 4-2 winner over Conestoga, at a neutral site and time to be determined.
The win also guarantees the Warriors a slot in the state tournament.
"It feels awesome to know we're headed back to states,' said Pitts. "We've been playing really well as a group. We've got to keep playing well as a unit, that's what makes it work. And we still have work to do.'
In the early going, the Bucks were more than hanging with the Warriors. Two aggressive teams combined for 14 penatly corners in the first half, with West forcing four over a 10-minute span before Henderson began to take control.
With just under seven minutes to play in the half, Sammi Long sent a pass across the circle to O'Donnell, who sent a shot towards the cage, where a waiting Pitts tapped it in for the opening goal.
"It's always important to get the lead,' said Pitts. "We were doing a nice job getting the ball into the circle and working as a team to set up our shots.'
With both defensive units doing a great job of keeping two aggressive teams out of the cage, the 1-0 score held until the second half when Henderson added an insurance goal. Pitts added her second from O'Donnell."It's always hard work when you are going up against a tough team, but we always seem to come through,' said Henderson back Carly Askinas. "It's also a lot more fun to play tough teams. It pushes you to play your very best, and lets you know you can rise to the occasion even against the best teams.'
Central Bucks West's lone goal came when goalie Emily Finn (eight saves) was drwan out of the cage to play a ball. Erick Fidrelli grabbed the loose ball, slipped behind Finn and tapped it in to cut the deficit in half."I thought we played really well,' said West coach Courtney Hughes. "This was two strong teams, and I thought we actually dominated quite a bit of the action. We knew (O'Donnell) was a big part of their team and I thought we did a pretty good job of taking her out. We're not done yet, though, so we'll just have to regroup and win our play-back games.'The Bucks will face Conestoga in the consolation semifinals. Henderson, a state qualifier last year, gets back again, but stil has some work in front of them, with a district title still in the picture.
"I couldn't be more proud of these girls,' said Henderson coach Jen O'Donnell. "They did everything we asked for them all day. We kept a strong, even tempo all the way through and stayed balanced. Going forward, we just have to take it one game at a time. In the playoffs, evey extra game you get to play is a cherry on top. Just have fun, play hard and have no regrets.'
West Chester Henderson 2
Central Bucks West 1
Central Bucks West 0 1--1W.C. Henderson 1 1--2Central Bucks West goal: Fidrelli.
Henderson goals: Pitts 2.
Goalie Saves: DeAngellis (CBW) 9; Finn (H) 8.