FRANCONIA >> Pennridge coach Dave Apple said this is the most conditioned Ram team he’s seen in a long time, and Tuesday’s second half against Souderton Area showed why.
After the two teams battled through the opening two quarters, during which the score was tied on five separate occasions, the Rams pulled away and never lost control, building an 11-8 lead in the third and blowing things open at 15-9 in the fourth.
Pennridge held off a fierce rally by Souderton in the final minutes to win 15-13, following up the Souderton girls’ 14-10 victory over the Rams earlier in the evening.
“I’m most happy about their ability to approach a game with the right mindset and come out strong,” Apple said. “And honestly, they have more endurance than I’ve seen them have in years. They can last the game. I can keep people in the entire game if I have to.”
“All of our conditioning throughout the preseason, morning practices and regular practices — doing all the push-ups, and the laps…We really outplayed them in the second half,” said Pennridge’s Jeff Swartz.
Swartz, Aiden Bunn and Josh Yardley kept firing with gusto and with accuracy, as Swartz and Bunn each scored five and Yardley added four in a high-powered attack that improved the Rams to 8-5.
Pennridge’s defense, meanwhile, made it tough for Souderton to counter.
“We wanted to force shots from the outside, basically make them take shots that are difficult,” Apple said. “If you can make that look enticing and force the desperation shot from the outside, 90 percent of the time that angle’s too tough to make.
“And Jake (Aigeldinger) is a wall in goal so I have a lot of faith in him. Souderton’s always been a great opponent. They have a great program. You can never write them off.”
Young Big Red (3-5) scored four goals in the final two minutes, battling their way back into it. T.J. Yaglenski and Rory Sinkinson each scored four goals for the Indians.
“We’re still just so young and make so many beginner mistakes,” coach Joe Hay said. “We had a lot of kickouts, ejections, the kind of mistakes that young players make. I still feel like we’re getting better every week.
“Pennridge is strong this year. They have some strong players, a really good goalie and some really good field players that are tough guys.”
Earlier in the evening, the Souderton girls (6-2) jumped out to an 8-0 lead over Pennridge and never wavered, powered by Erika Wimmer, Rachel Morris and Emily Hodges, each of which scored four goals.
“The girls are doing a great job,” Hay said. “They really know where to go and know what to do when they get there.”