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Pioneer Athletic Conference

Spring-Ford controls unbeaten battle with Perk Valley, locks up 4th straight perfect PAC season

ROYERSFORD >> The Perkiomen Valley boys lacrosse team wanted a crack at Spring-Ford all season.

Thursday night, with the Pioneer Athletic Conference’s two remaining unbeatens meeting for the first time in their respective regular season finales, the Vikings found out — not for the first time — it’s not all it’s cracked up to be.

After all, you don’t become six-time league champions by luck.

After a hyped Perk Valley owned the first quarter, Spring-Ford came alive with a four-goal second quarter and completely controlled the pace of play en route to a 9-4 victory that secured a fourth straight unbeaten PAC regular season.

Spring-Ford’s Gavin Hare (26) works his way around the defense of Perkiomen Valley’s Connor Donovan (29) during Thursday’s game. (Austin Hertzog – Digital First Media)

Midfielder Danny Cassidy scored two of his game-best three goals and added an assist during the second quarter surge while bossing the game in the midfield (12 groundballs). Ryan Rosenblum added two goals and an assist while single goals came from Peyton Gensler, Tate Pijanowski, Jarrod Marenger and Drew Giovinco.

The Rams (9-0, 14-2) are used to getting every team’s best shot yet continue to stay a step ahead.

“I knew they were hungry. Every year they come out and they’re hungry for a win,” said Rosenblum, “but I think we’re always just as hungry if not hungrier.”

“We’re at a good spot right now but we can’t let up. We might see them again next week so we have to keep practicing hard and keeping at it.”

Spring-Ford’s Dan Cassidy (16) controls the ball as Perkiomen Valley’s Connor Donovan (29) defends during Thursday’s game. (Austin Hertzog – Digital First Media)

The Pioneer Athletic Conference playoffs commence Tuesday at Owen J. Roberts with the Rams earning the No. 1 seed while No. 2 Perkiomen Valley and No. 3 Owen J. Roberts will meet in the semifinals yet again. The Vikings have yet to clear that semifinal hurdle but have a regular season win over the Wildcats in their back pocket (9-3 win on April 11).

Perk Valley (8-1, 12-4) was the energized team early through two goals from Matt Dudley (assists by Shawn Coulter and Kyle Beaudoin). Gensler got the Rams on the board in the final minute of the first quarter yet the first 12 minutes were controlled by PV.

“It was a pretty big game, battle of the unbeatens in the PAC so we knew they were going to have a lot of energy coming out. We were expecting that. I think we weren’t expecting how much energy they were going to have because we got taken back a little,” Cassidy said. “But after the first quarter, on the sideline we said, ‘OK, this is what they’re going to throw at us. It was a little more than we expected, but we can handle it so let’s start playing.’ We got into a groove, our offense started playing a lot better and our defense, they always play stellar, and they showed it again tonight.”

Perkiomen Valley’s Matthew Dudley (8) and Shawn Coulter (17) celebrate Dudley’s goal during Thursday night’s game against Spring-Ford. (Austin Hertzog – Digital First Media)

The Rams had a four-goal run that included two from Cassidy on two similar strikes from the right side and a pretty run from the backside from Marenger. Long-stick midfielder Remy Sell pulled one back for PV in transition to make it a respectable 5-3 Spring-Ford lead at half.

“Lacrosse is a game of runs. I told the guys, they’re going to go on runs, we’re going to go on runs … but we never got back on a run,” PV coach Bryan Churchey said. “The biggest thing is we got outworked in the middle of the field. That’s supposed to be a strength of ours and it just wasn’t tonight.”

“You’ve gotta win the groundballs. You’ve gotta want them and you’ve gotta earn them. I didn’t get to look at the groundball stats but I’m sure they decisively beat us in that category. If you don’t have the ball you can’t score. And that’s something Spring-Ford always does really well, they do a great job of controlling the tempo.”

Spring-Ford’s Danny Cassidy (16) celebrates with Hart (3) after scoring a goal during Thursday night’s game against Perkiomen Valley. (Austin Hertzog – Digital First Media)

The Rams never ceded even a moment of momentum to the Vikings in the second half, extending the lead to 7-3 after three quarters while goalie Kyle Pettine (six saves) and the defense allowed a single goal.

“We know they’re an explosive team so we knew when we had a possession we needed to control it and had to be prepared to hold the ball and look for good shots because Kevin Mo is a great goalie,” Cassidy said. “We knew we were going to have to be selective with what we were taking on him and we did that in the second quarter and second half.”

Perkiomen Valley will spend the next few days hoping for another chance.

“We hope that we’re going to see them, but we’re right where we need to be and we have to get ready for Tuesday,” Churchey said. “Next Tuesday (the semifinal against OJR) is going to be a battle.”

Continuing their progression is good enough for the Rams.

“We still have a lot of potential and I don’t think we’ve played our best lacrosse yet,” Cassidy said. “We’ve put together quarters and halves, but we haven’t had a full game where we’re firing on all cylinders. I’m really excited that hopefully in PACs and districts we can get that rolling and maybe make it to states this year.”

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