WEST GOSHEN -- For the entire 25-minute opening half of Wednesday afternoon's state playoff opener, the Downingtown East High School girls lacrosse team did an outstanding job on Springfield (Delco) star midfielder Emily Santana.
She was held scoreless in the first half. However, the junior first-team all-Central League selection and Rutgers commit came roaring to life after the break for the District 1 champions.
Santana netted all of her game-high five goals in the second stanza to help Springfield rally from a one-goal halftime deficit to defeat a very game Downingtown East squad, 11-8, in their first round PIAA playoff game inside West Chester East High School's Harold I. Zimmerman Stadium.
Springfield (22-2 overall) trailed 4-3 at halftime, but absolutely dominated the first 15 minutes of the second half to seize control of the game.
They went on a 7-1 run to open the final frame, with five of those goals coming by Santana, as they went from being behind on the scoreboard to being in front by a commanding score of 10-5 with 9:06 remaining.
Springfield advances to the state quarterfinals on Saturday against District 3 runner-up Lancaster Country Day at a neutral site and time to be announced.
Downingtown East (17-6), meanwhile, saw its outstanding season come to a close. It certainly wasn't due to a lack of effort from the Cougars, who had finished sixth in the District 1 playoffs to grab the final state playoff berth.
In the first half, Downingtown East was the better team. The Cougars played smart, disciplined and poised. Behind two goals from Sarah Kollhoff and a terrific six saves in the first 25 minutes from goalie Haleigh Wurzel, East led 4-3 at the break.
Senior Nicole Barretta finished with a team-high four goals for Downingtown East.
The East defense was phenomenal in the first half. Springfield, though, is a hard team to keep in check. They had averaged nearly 15 goals a game in their five victories in the district playoffs en route to the title.
The Springfield offense woke up in a hurry in the second half.
Santana scored with 23:07 to tie the game at 4-4. Moments later, Santana scored again with 19:06 left to give the Cougars their first lead of the game at 5-4.
Downingtown East would stop the bleeding momentarily when Nicole Barretta scored with 17:03 remaining to tie the game back up at 5-5.
Then the wheels fell off for East.
Springfield ripped off the next five goals, three of which came from Santana. They enabled them to grab a 10-5 lead with just less than 10 minutes to play.
To Downingtown East's credit, though, they continued to fight despite the demoralizing turn of events from one half to the next.
East scored three straight goals, all from Barretta, over the course of the next five minutes and all of a sudden had the deficit cut to 10-8 with 3:56 left.
Barretta was whistled for a two-minute penalty with 3:26 to go. With a player advantage, Springfield was able to work the ball around and burn a ton of time off the clock until they struck the final blow with 42.1 seconds remaining on a goal by Kate Ryan.
Springfield (Delco) 11
Downingtown East 8
Downingtown East 4 4 — 8
Springfield 3 8 — 11
Downingtown East goals: N. Barretta 4, Kollhoff 2, Ambrogi, V. Barretta.
Springfield goals: Santana 5, C. Gormley 2, Ryan 2, A. Gormley, Whitaker.
Goalie saves: Wurzel (DE) 9; Bedard (S) 10.