ROYERSFORD >> The Boyertown girls soccer team felt like it was on the verge of big things nearly all fall.
Spring-Ford seemingly was always butting in on those hopes, like a defender shielding the ball out of bounds.
So it was cruelly fitting at the final whistle of Tuesday night’s District 1 Class 4A playoff first-round match when No. 12 seed Spring-Ford kept finding ways to stay a step ahead of No. 21 Boyertown in a 3-2 victory at Coach McNelly Stadium.
Ella Curry was on the double for the winners, the junior attacking midfielder’s scoring touch a chief reason why the Rams (13-6) advanced to face No. 5 Downingtown East Thursday night (7 p.m.) at Downingtown West. Alyssa Hardin assisted on Curry’s game-winner with a cross from the right side with 18:51 to play.
Before that decisive score, Boyertown always had an answer for Spring-Ford in a second half that was a stunner, an open, attacking affair with big chances, many goals (4), great goalkeeping saves — a rarity in a matchup that is usually cagey and low-scoring.
“It was a bit frustrating as they kept coming back,” Curry said. “The pressure is on us to get another one because we don’t want to go into overtime if we don’t have to. We had to keep stepping it up after each one and I think we did that.”
From a Boyertown perspective, defensive miscues will leave it wondering after a third match with Spring-Ford went the Rams’ way.
“It was everything a playoff game should be,” Boyertown coach Bill Goddard said. “Uncharacteristically, we gave up three goals, which is unusual. We scored two, which is unusual. On a night where we score two, normally that would be good enough for us to win. It wasn’t due to lack of effort.”
Spring-Ford sophomore midfielder Hope Flanegin opened the game’s scoring — the lone goal in the first half — with an easy, open-net finish thanks to the great run of senior right back Jill Quigley, who split the defense and hit a strong shot that could only be parried by Boyertown goalkeeper Mattie Gallagher.
“I was taking my space because it was wide open. The girl came on but then the two defenders separated so I just split them and went for it,” Quigley said. “It was a relief (to get the opening goal) and gave us more confidence in ourselves.”
The second half signaled its intent from the jump when Spring-Ford sophomore goalkeeper Riley Wallace closed well to deny a Samantha Goffice breakaway just 16 seconds in. Wallace made four saves, including twice denying Goffice on breakaways that looked like sure goals.
Maddie Monka gave Boyertown its breakthrough with 30:34 on the clock after making a good run from midfield and Goffice gave a nice through ball for the leveler, 1-1.
Just two minutes later, Curry gave the Rams the lead right back after a long throw-in that got through traffic and on to the junior’s dangerous boot.
Four minutes later, the Bears looked to have a game-changing swing when Gallagher (six saves) denied a great chance from Curry and the Bears scored on the counterattack through Goffice, effectively a two-goal swing.
Nevertheless, Spring-Ford’s reply was quick and this time decisive as Curry was given too much space to handle Harden’s cross for the eventual game-winner in the 62nd minute.
“At the beginning of each half, I felt we were flustered. But as the game went on we calmed down and got ourselves together, were moving the ball around and creating our opportunities. And we capitalized on them,” Curry said.
Spring-Ford bounced back from its loss in the Pioneer Athletic Conference championship to Owen J. Roberts on Oct. 18 and now chases a long postseason run that has become the norm in Royersford.
Boyertown capped its season at 9-7-3, a winning record from a team that carried a threat but had trouble getting the biggest results.
While the Bears will graduate seniors Ryane Bernstiel, Aurora Conrad, Grace Conover, Cassidy Landis, Mackenzie Haley, Sierra Landes, Maggie Kiene, Megan Knier, Mackenzie Fatzinger and Bria Smith, much of the team’s spine returns with attackers Goffice and Emma Elwell, holding midfielder Mikayla Moyer and goalkeeper Gallagher.
“We have a good group of kids coming back so the future is bright for us,” Goddard said. “We lose our back line and they’ve been steady for us.
“We play high risk, high reward. Sometimes you’re rewarded and sometimes the game punishes you. Today we got punished.”
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