ROYERSFORD >> The Boyertown boys soccer team had received a wake-up call.
Tuesday night the Bears doled one out.
Staring at the possibility of missing the postseason altogether and not being able to defend their Pioneer Athletic Conference championship, Boyertown faced a virtual must-win on the road at Spring-Ford against a Rams team that hadn’t suffered a league defeat.
That changed Tuesday when Boyertown put on an inspired performance and got two goals and an assist from Alex Kidwell to send Spring-Ford to its first PAC loss, 3-1 at Coach McNelly Stadium.
Boyertown (5-4 Liberty, 8-4 PAC) likely assured itself a place in the District 1 playoffs with the win – they were ranked No. 25 entering the week for the 24-team field – and kept its hopes alive at making the PAC Final Four, set for next Tuesday at Owen J. Roberts.
“It would be a really big disappointment if we didn’t do anything this year,” said Kidwell, a senior forward. “We had all the hype going into this year (as defending league champions) and for us to fall apart like that would be really disappointment. Tonight could have been the last game of our season. Our Senior Night is Thursday, which could have been the worst Senior Night ever with nothing to look forward to.”
“It’s such a relief,” senior midfielder Nik Verma said. “We love that we have another opportunity to get to that spot (PAC playoffs) and get into districts.”
Instead the Bears will have plenty to play for when they host Norristown – a game they will be favored in – while hoping the results of Phoenixville (7-3 PAC), which faces Upper Merion Thursday and Frontier first place Pottsgrove Friday, fall in their favor.
The Bears scored first – Jimmy Towers’ excellent solo effort set up an easy score for Kidwell – and then put on a dominant second-half display that saw Kidwell score less than two minutes in on a breakaway from a Will Schul through ball before Kyle Sheahan sealed it with five minutes to play.
“We matched their intensity and we knew that if we went that extra 10-percent every time to every ball that we would win this game,” Verma said. “We knew that if we could get that intensity from every person on the field we would win.”
Chase Parr’s strike from 35 yards out in the 32nd minute gave Spring-Ford a jolt, but the Rams (8-1 Liberty, 11-1 PAC) could not parlay it into much more.
With Verma, Sam Marks and Will Schul in the midfield lending support to the defensive line of Erik Recke, Ben Margavich, Ben Wise and Owen Kulig, the Bears largely kept the Rams, led by midfielder Ronnie Minges and forward Michael Hyduke, at bay.
Spring-Ford, No. 11 in last week’s district rankings, has assured itself of a place in the PAC Final Four as the Liberty Division winner and was pushing for the top seed. Instead it got a reminder that there are no walkovers.
“We came out a little flat tonight,” Parr said. “We knew we needed the win to get the No. 1 seed in the conference playoffs and we didn’t come out with that. I feel like we came in thinking we should have won just by being there even though we knew it was going to be a really tough game. We have to pull together … it’s frustrating.”
Highlight reel >> The goal of the night came from the boot of Parr. An aspiring filmmaker who put together an excellent hype video for last week’s Spring-Ford/Perkiomen Valley football showdown and intends on attending film school, the senior midfielder would have loved to be behind the camera for his goal. Performing was just as good though.
“I’ve had about five shots this year, all from 30-35 yards out,” he said. “I’ve put some real close but I finally got the one. Only five shots on the year so the sixth one was the charm.”
Alexander the Great >> A must-win occasion was perfect for the Bears’ Kidwell, the team’s top scorer the past two seasons.
“In big moments I feel like I do my best, against big teams,” Kidwell said.
“He’s been clicking really great lately. He’s on it every time and scoring for us,” Verma said.
Blip on the radar >> Despite taking its first league defeat, Spring-Ford has returned to PAC prominence this season and still has designs on winning its first PAC title since 2013.
“We’re a real tight group overall,” Parr said. “We like each other, we play for each other. It’s finally come together. We had two down years in a row and now we’re back to what Spring-Ford soccer usually is.
“Going in to the year no one expected us to do anything. We knew we could and knew we had the talent but we finally put it together. We have more depth this year and we’re playing well.”
By the numbers >> The teams were level on shots on goal, 6-6. Boyertown keeper Connor McKeown had five saves; Spring-Ford’s Kyle Allan made three. … Boyertown held the advantage in corners, 2-0.