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Central Bucks West clears hurdle, denies Spring-Ford 1-0 in District 1-4A semifinal

Central Bucks West's Jimi Leder (20) celebrates after scoring a goal in the first half against Spring-Ford during the District 1-4A semifinals Tuesday at Spring-Ford. (Austin Hertzog/Digital First Media)
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ROYERSFORD >> After being denied in the semifinals of both the District 1 and PIAA Class 4A championships a year ago, the Final Four hurdle might seem like a big one to the Central Bucks West boys soccer team.

Then again, it might just be the next step.

Tuesday night in the round that foiled the Bucks a year ago, they were the ones doing the foiling as junior Jimi Leder’s first-half strike and an increasingly suffocating defensive performance carried Central Bucks West to a 1-0 victory over No. 2 Spring-Ford to earn a place in the District 1-4A championship.

C.B. West (18-2) will meet No. 4 seed Abington — a 3-2 winner over No. 9 Unionville in Tuesday’s other semifinal — in the title game on Saturday at 6 p.m. at Upper Merion.

The Bucks are an in-form team after knocking off No. 3 seed North Penn a round earlier, and now downing the No. 2 seeds. But C.B. West is obviously taking it all in stride.

“This is kind of just a step along the way,” junior captain Bailey Moyer said.

“We have a bigger picture than just districts. We’re trying to win states and go much further,” Leder said after netting his 10th goal of the year.

Central Bucks West’s Bailey Moyer (9) plays the ball forward during a District 1-4A semifinal Tuesday at Spring-Ford. (Austin Hertzog – Digital First Media)

Nevertheless, it was a satisfying spot to surpass.

“It shows our improvement over the past season and how everyone is working and trying to surpass everything we’ve done in the past,” Moyer said.

Spring-Ford (17-3-3) had already surpassed its program’s past by making the semifinals for the first time and earning a place in the PIAA playoffs. The Rams will take on Unionville in the district third-place game Saturday 11 a.m. at Spring-Ford.

“They all held their heads up there at the end. They played hard, it just didn’t go their way,” Spring-Ford head coach Brent Kissel said. “We still have a chance to show the state of Pennsylvania what Spring-Ford soccer is about and we’re excited for that opportunity.”

A fast start by both teams made it look like it was going to be a game with plenty of goals. While both teams’ pace, namely Spring-Ford’s Colin Trainor, Brett Gulati and Brandon Duke and CB West’s Leder, Luke Fehrman and Moyer (a defender who started up top), carried a real threat, the Rams and Bucks defenses were on their games, too.

In the 21st minute, the game changed for good. CB West again attacked quickly and directly to Mike Redfield who played a flick-on header for Leder. The junior broke down the right decisively and played a quick, driven shot to the left, to beat Spring-Ford keeper Ray Fortebuono (three saves).

“I took a touch into space and I had the guy by about two steps and I just put it over the keeper,” Leder said.

Central Bucks West’s Jimi Leder controls the ball as Spring-Ford’s Ethan Mossip defends during their District 1-4A semifinal Tuesday at Spring-Ford. (Austin Hertzog – Digital First Media)

Having conceded only 11 goals all season, the Bucks often need only one goal for goalkeeper Dylan Smith, who commanded his area expertly and had eight saves.

“We always pound the ball forward, try to get one early and take it from there,” Moyer said. “We always want to get the first one because it’s harder to come back from (a deficit).”

Spring-Ford came close on a huge ball over the top for Trainor into the penalty area down the right, but Smith closed down well for the save with 5:45 until half.

The Rams’ other best chance came from Duke, whose great first touch gave him a mini-breakaway, but his shot was low and at Smith with 31 minutes to play.

As the second half wore on, the Bucks, with James Lutz, Nick Centenera, Reed Sturza and Redfield joining Moyer in the back, sucked the life out of the game while Spring-Ford’s sharpness faded toward the final whistle.

“I’m proud of how we played the game,” Kissel said. “We knew what they were going to do, be direct and good in the air. We tried to not get stuck in their game and we did that and continued to move the ball around but we just didn’t finish our chances. Smith is a really good goalkeeper and we needed to challenge him more than (shoot) directly at him.”

Central Bucks West’s Reed Sturza (17) clears the ball as Spring-Ford’s Sal Ibarra gives chase during their District 1-4A semifinal Tuesday at Spring-Ford. (Austin Hertzog – Digital First Media)

Meanwhile, the Bucks will put another tight win in their back pockets and keep chasing their bigger and better goals.

“Everyone has been buying into the team and doing what we need to do to get results every game,” Leder said.

NOTES >> Spring-Ford led in shots on goal 7-4 while CB West led in total shots 9-8 and corners 2-0. … Trainor and Smith had a big collision on a dangerous ball into the 18 with six minutes to play. Trainor got up quickly but did not finish the game while undergoing concussion testing. Results of the testing were not available at press time.

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