BUCKTOWN >> It wasn’t so long ago Jarrod Marenger was ‘the third guy’ in the Spring-Ford boys lacrosse team’s offense.
Things really can change fast though.
“Playing with Jake Hvazda and Kevin Todd last year, I was the third guy, lost in the mix,” the Spring-Ford junior joked on his sophomore year as a starter alongside a pair of senior standouts. “Now I get the opportunity to show what I’m about and I’m loving it.
“I appreciated last year getting the chance to get my feet wet in big spots like this, because now I get to come out this year, learn from my mistakes last year and fix them this year and really take care of business.”
There was no confusing Marenger’s new status Tuesday night when he scored five goals and added an assist to help Spring-Ford pull away from Owen J. Roberts, 10-4, in a renewal of the rivalry of the two teams who have met in all 10 Pioneer Athletic Conference championship games.
Spring-Ford improves to 7-1 and 3-0 in the Pioneer Athletic Conference. Their lone loss came to reigning PIAA champion Springfield-Delco – the team that denied the Rams in last year’s district quarterfinals – 13-5 on April 8.
“I grew up watching the guys before me and how serious they took this rivalry. It’s really near and dear to me as well,” Marenger said. “I came into this game really excited. I love playing this team. It’s always a good game and always really fun.”
It’s only been fun it you’re a Ram over the past six seasons. Spring-Ford has taken control in what was once anybody’s game and managed to stay in front in 2017 despite the major losses of last year’s top players like Hvazda, Todd (Richmond), midfielders Justin Schwenk (Monmouth), Matt DellaCroce (Michigan) and Mercury All-Area Player of the Year Liam Hare (St. Joseph’s).
The reconfigured cast is finding its way as it attempts to maintain Spring-Ford’s run of league championships and postseason success.
“We took the first couple games to work out the dents, but there are some lingering problems we have now and then but I think we do a good job finding those problems and nipping them in the bud,” Marenger said.
While OJR hasn’t beaten the Rams since April 3, 2013 many of the games since have been very close, as was Tuesday’s for much of the contest.
“There were times where we would swing and they would swing back and hit pretty hard,” Marenger said. “But we always found the chance to bounce right back and took care of the little things.”
OJR (2-2, 3-5) was within 5-3 on Noah Calle’s man-up goal early in the third quarter and 6-4 after Logan Clefisch’s score that would be the last of the third quarter.
But the Rams took control in the final frame when Ryan Rosenblum (two goals, one assist) found his range, a pair of goals sandwiched around a Danny Cassidy (two goals) goal on the break that came five seconds after Rosenblum’s first score.
Marenger put the finishing touch with 5:08 remaining as he rolled from the backside across the face of goal and fired in his fifth goal while falling over. The Rams defense, led by Tanner Romano, Dan Dougherty, Gage Warrell and goalie Kyle Pettine (11 saves), didn’t allow an OJR in the final quarter.
“Our defense started to get some tenacity going and that was good to see,” SF coach Kevin Donnelly said. “They were flying around doing the things they are capable of doing after coming out a little more hesitant than I would have liked them to.”
NOTES >> Also on the scoresheet for Spring-Ford was Peyton Gensler (three assists), Tate Pijanowski (one goal) and Kyle Reed (one assist). For OJR, Clefisch had two scores, Joey Tordone had a goal and Evan Massa and Christian Broddt each had an assist. Goalie JC Capaldo made seven saves.