ROYERSFORD >> There are many positive memories from the Spring-Ford boys soccer team’s 2016 season. Then there are the lasting impressions.
An 11-1-1 Pioneer Athletic Conference regular season turned into a bitter end when the Rams went 0-2 in the postseason, their PAC championship visions undone by Boyertown in the league semifinals.
With Wednesday’s visit from the defending PAC champion Bears, Spring-Ford didn’t lack for motivation.
“One of things we talked about was, ‘They put an end to our (PAC) season last year, we’re not going to let that happen again. We’re going to take it to them,’” senior defender Calvin Thomas said.
Spring-Ford did exactly that with a comprehensive performance that saw Nolan Schweitzer and Thomas score goals in each half on the way to a 2-0 victory over Boyertown at Coach McNelly Stadium.
The Rams turned last year’s negative into this year’s positive.
“That’s motivated us so much,” senior center back Cole Dampf said of last year’s playoff exit. “To beat Boyertown especially – they’re a strong group of guys – I’m glad we came out on top.”
Spring-Ford, which returned a large majority of last year’s team, took the early lead in the PAC Liberty Division standings at 3-1 (4-1 overall), a division race that looks as if it will be as tight as ever. Despite such turnover from last year’s championship team, it was Boyertown’s first defeat of the year, falling to 1-1 in the league and 3-1 overall.
The Rams gained momentum from a largely even start as the first half wore on and got their reward after a Dampf free kick was cleared by the Boyertown defense only as far as Nick Glonek on the right side. The sophomore played a deep cross that got behind the defense and to the far post where junior Schweitzer was there to hit it home for a 1-0 lead in the 24th minute. Sophomore Colin Trainor nearly doubled the lead right after by Boyertown goalkeeper Zach Kovatch (five saves) made a key save.
“We know Boyertown is a solid team and they’ve always been aggressive so our motto today was to go in there and give it to them,” Thomas said. “Our midfield did a great job of that and really took it to them and I loved to see that.”
Central midfielder Johnny Guimaraes was excellent for Spring-Ford, with Sal Ibarra also playing a crucial role as they made up for the absence of All-Area first teamer Ronnie Minges (out with a sprained ankle), while forward Nate Alban was a quality outlet up top.
The Rams took all the energy in the game early in the second half when Dampf played a booming free kick from just beyond midfield down the left side. Alban got to it first and hit a high header from inside the 18. Thomas made the most of his rare scoring chance by rising up for another header that looped over the Boyertown goalkeeper for the 2-0 lead in the 44th minute.
“I was so hype. Nate Alban headed it across and I figured this is my opportunity,” Thomas said. “I saw the goalie coming out and I just tried to jump up and beat him to it and I got a head on it. I was so excited.”
The Jimmy Towers-led Boyertown attack had a strong stretch after going down 2-0, but the Spring-Ford defense of the center back pairing Dampf and Thomas, outside backs Aidan Mossip and Jack Hermann and goalkeeper Hunter Hudak (six saves) showed no let down.
If the Rams learned their lessons from last year, a lingering letdown won’t be an issue this time.