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Haverford rallies past Souderton in District 1-3A first round

FRANCONIA >> In the end, just about everything was rain-soaked except Haverford’s game plan, as the Fords made adjustments after Tuesday’s 3-0 deficit, put together a flawless second quarter, and continued along their playoff road with an 8-5 victory over Souderton Wednesday night.

“We needed a new start,” J.T. Smyth said as he and his teammates climbed into the team bus, “and we capitalized on it.”

No. 17 Haverford advances to Thursday’s District 1-3A Second Round and a road game at No. 1 Avon Grove.

The Haverford-Souderton contest was suspended on Tuesday due to lightning, with the 16-seeded Big Red leading 3-0 at the end of the first quarter.

Haverford came out Wednesday evening and put together a six-goal second quarter to push ahead 6-3.

Jack Daly scored 30 seconds in, followed by Kyle Bennett’s tally, slicing it to 3-2. And then Smyth came through with the tying and go-ahead goals.

“My team did a great job setting me up,” Smyth said. “(On the go-ahead score), Kyle (Bennett) did great at drawing the defender, dumped it off to me and I put it in.”

The Fords dominated possession in that pivotal second quarter.

“I think (the postponement) was an opportunity to wake up. We had the opportunity to watch the first quarter on film, and we know who we are, and just came out the way we’re supposed to,” Fords coach Greg Decina said. “We have a really strong offense so we had plenty of looks.

“Their goalie (Axell Beskar) had a heck of a game. We had a lot more looks than goals too so it’s a tribute to their goalie for sure.”

Souderton got its first goal of the night when Dylan Anderson connected in the third quarter, making it 6-4. But Haverford buckled down on defense, keeper Shane Liney made some key stops, and the Fords added two more goals in the fourth to put the game out of reach.

“On defense, that was one of the mentalities we wanted to change — we wanted to dictate the game a little bit so we came out a little different, a little heavier,” Decina said.

Daly, Bennett, Smyth and Cole Lukasiewicz all scored twice for Haverford, ensuring a date with the district’s top seed.

“Avon Grove’s a good team, but depending on how our team shows up, we have a chance with anyone for sure,” said Decina, whose team is trying to reach states for the second straight year.

Big Red Building Something

Souderton has now gone 29-10 over the last two seasons, notching its first two playoff appearances in the program’s history.

“Our next step is to win that first playoff game,” Big Red coach Mark Princehorn said, “which is now the goal. For 2019, that is the goal.

“This team, we made some great strides. We’ve got a lot of good things coming back, and a lot to be proud of. Tonight is tough, but I feel like we’re on the rise.”

Big Red will return nine of its 10 leading scorers next year, including junior Walker Martin, who became the program’s all-time leading scorer with a fourth-quarter goal against the Fords.

Matt Rauch gave Souderton its first goal on Tuesday and then Stephen Blue connected twice, providing the 3-0 lead. But then Haverford turned things around.

“That’s a team from the Central League, from Delaware County, where it’s the best lacrosse you can find,” Princehorn said. “Here in the Suburban One, we’re trying to get to that level.

“I’m really proud of the guys who have played for me over the last five years, specifically this group of seniors. They’ve been through it, the dark times, and now the turnaround. I coached a lot of these guys in my clinics when I was first hired. We have a pretty good group coming back, but it all depends on how hard they work between now and the beginning of the year.”

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