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Springfield’s Spence Brothers now have twin state titles

WEST GOSHEN >> The only thing better than celebrating a second straight state lacrosse championship is repeating with your brother.

That’s what James and Jack Spence did Saturday.

Older brother and Springfield goalie James Spence stopped eight shots, including a late bullet that he turned away with his head and shoulder, to lead the Cougars to a 9-8 win over West Chester Henderson in the PIAA Class 3A final at West Chester East. Jack Spence scored two goals, including what proved to be the game-winner.

Jack Spence, left, and Joey DeBernardi celebrate the former’s goal in the fourth quarter of a 9-8 win over West Chester Henderson in the PIAA Class 2A final Saturday. (Digital First Media/Pete Bannan)

“It’s awesome,” James Spence said. “Me and Jack, we have such a great bond. We’re always messing around with each other in the house. We’re always trying to make each other better and just be great friends to each other. Really, we’re just best friends. And doing this together is just something amazing.”

Next year will be the first time in six seasons the Cougars will play lacrosse without some combination of Spence brothers.

Three years ago, Lucas Spence starred for the Cougars before moving on to play lacrosse at Lehigh University. James and Lucas shared a District 1 title at Springfield. If you’re keeping count, that’s two state and two district titles with some combination of Spence brothers. That’s not a coincidence.

While Joe DeBernardi led the Cougars with four goals Saturday, Spence’s second goal gave the Cougars a 9-6 cushion with 4:42 remaining against a gritty Henderson squad that played to the final buzzer.

“I just tried getting it off as fast as I could and luckily it went in,” Spence said. “It was a great pass from Ben (Garcia). He caught the defense moving and it led to an easy goal. Luckily it was just enough. This is real special, winning two (titles) in a row. It means a lot. Everyone knows their role here and is good to go at all times.”

James Spence will join Lucas at Lehigh next year, where they can share another year of high school championship stories or check out the marks left by the game. The late save by James Spence on a ball headed for the upper right corner left a mark.

“I think it just hit my head and my collarbone and I was able to make the save,” Spence said. “You get used to it. There’s always pain. But all the adrenaline and the heat, and everything about this game, you don’t notice it.”

In a few months James is going to notice how much he misses his Cougars teammates, coach Tom Lemieux and their championship days.

Springfield goalie James Spence celebrates the final whistle in the Cougars 9-8 victory over West Chester Henderson in the PIAA 2A lacrosse playoffs Saturday at West Chester Henderson high School. (Digital First Media/Pete Bannan)

“I’m going to miss everyone, every player, every coach,” Spence said. “Coach Lemieux is probably the best coach I could ever ask for. He’s done everything for me. He put me before himself. In every situation, he was there for me. He was like my second father. I’m going to miss him so much.”

James Spence also is going to miss throwing those 60-yard outlet passes to Jack that stress defenses and add fun to the game. Jack is going to miss running under them and showing his older bro how much he cares about him by following his example.

“He’s just a great leader,” Jack Spence said. “I really look up to him. He’s a role model for me.”

Oh, and no more lacrosse moves in the house is going to be tough on both of the Spences, although they’ll only be a phone call away.

“Winning two state championships and a district championship with my little brother is a dream come true,” James said. “I couldn’t ask for anything better.”

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