GRATERFORD >> Things are back to normal in PAC men’s lacrosse — in more ways than one.
After two years of cancellations, the first Final Four PAC since 2019 ended like all others in the past decade – with the Rams of Spring-Ford celebrating a league championship.
The top-seeded Rams outscored No. 3 Owen J. Roberts, 8-2, at Thomas J. Keenan Stadium in Perkiomen Valley on Thursday night, winning their 10th league title since 2011 and 11th in program history. .
“We have a group of guys who have worked hard over the past two years, taking care of the things that matter,” said victorious coach Kevin Donnelly. “These things were not always under [the program’s] control. But we are grateful to be here and we cherish this opportunity.
Final: Spring-Ford 8, Owen J Roberts 2, PAC Boys Lacrosse Championship 🏆
Excellent performances from the now 11-time PAC champions pic.twitter.com/iC7V0N0cKW
— Austin Hertzog (@AustinHertzog) May 13, 2022
This year’s undefeated run through the PAC was accomplished using Spring-Ford’s proven formula of consistency, depth and contributions across the roster. But the Rams added some spice this time around.
A defensive unit led by assistant coach Kevin Czapor and backed by goaltender Brad Venella put on their best performance of 2022 on Thursday night, and that’s quite a statement for a unit that came into play allowing just 3.9 goals per league game.
That average dropped on Thursday, as Venella’s 14 saves scored in an effort that saw SF hold the Wildcats scoreless for the opening 35:55 of the game. Venella stopped the first dozen shots he saw, the highlight being a save on a short breakaway from OJR midfielder Gabe DellaPenna just before halftime.
“Coach always says ‘next best game’ so I focus on what’s right in front of me,” Venella said. “On that play, I saw the ball, went out, got big and got a piece of it back.”
Meanwhile, the defense and midfield ensured Venella all the help he needed, prompting 21 turnovers and frustrating the OJR to the point that even setting up an attack was often a challenge.
“We keep working, improving – honestly, two goals are still too many in our minds,” captain Parker Smith said. “We keep pushing to improve and stay motivated.”
OJR coach Mikey Zadroga admitted that the Rams’ relentlessness could get into opponents’ heads.
“Our team isn’t confident we can compete with Spring-Ford,” he said. “That’s the most important thing we have to take away from this game, because until we believe we can play with [the Rams]nothing will change.
“But that’s why I call them the standard. They are disciplined, dominant in one-on-one clashes and they control the tempo.
“Our defensive effort was stifled today,” Donnelly said. “We knew what we had to do, we knew our missions, and we went out and did it. I give credit to Owen J. Roberts for playing hard, they’re a solid team that won us all the way.
“I don’t think we’re an intimidating team, but I think the legacy of the guys who came before us probably has an effect.”
Offensively, the Rams split the goal scored among half a dozen players, with Will Bonawitz and Christian Marchini leading with two goals and three assists apiece. Will Fish, Lance Terrizzi, Hayden Wedemeyer and Justin Wixted also scored for SF.
“We always say on this team we love the athletes,” said Marchini, who added three caused turnovers to his stat line. “We put a stick in your hand and you chase it down both sides of the court. If you can rule the pitch, we’ll find a place for you, especially in midfield.
The result meant the completion of Spring-Ford’s first, and perhaps primary, goal for the 2022 season – regaining the PAC title they lost a year ago. Perkiomen Valley outscored the Rams, 8-7, in the opener of the 2021 season and without a Final Four at the end of the campaign, Spring-Ford was left to watch as the Vikings headed for the first PAC championship in the program. the story.
“It’s a sweet feeling,” said senior captain and midfielder Carson Bogdan. “For us, it’s a return to tradition.
“We wanted this; We were hungry. We knew we would get everyone’s best game, so we came out ready for a battle.
Meanwhile, the Wildcats broke late with a pair of goals from Will Jaeger, the last of which was the 100th point of his high school career. Added to teammate Josh Devine’s 100th point in 2022 on Tuesday night, both OJR seniors have some impressive accomplishments, especially for players who have seen a full year taken out of their careers.
“It’s something they should both be very proud of,” Zadroga said. “Both guys work hard, so they deserve this achievement.”
Owen J. Roberts (14-6, 8-3 PAC) will continue his best season in recent history in the District 1 playoffs. The Wildcats, ranked No. 10 in District 1-3A at the start of Thursday, will host a match in the first round on Tuesday. The full field and matchups will be announced on Saturday.
“It’s a new season, and it’s a simple elimination,” Zadroga said. “So nothing from the past matters. Tonight doesn’t matter. You show up and either you win or you go home.
Spring-Ford (14-4, 10-0 PAC) came into play Thursday as the No. 7 seed in those same rankings, and figures to be safe in the top eight, which would mean a bye in the first round and a full week. rest before starting the districts at Coach McNelly Stadium next Thursday.
“We’ve seen some really tough competition this year and we know we can play with these teams,” Donnelly concluded. “We know our defense is solid and our offense has seen a lot of zone, which increases our comfort level.
“We know how to react in every situation.”
After two years filled with unpredictability, perhaps the strongest sign of a “return to normal” is a Spring-Ford PAC lacrosse championship.