WORCESTER >> Over the past eight years, Pioneer Athletic Conference lacrosse has grown undeniably stronger, to the point where this season, more than half the league’s teams can expect to qualify for district tournaments.
Despite the league’s growth and improvement, one factor has remained constant.
Everyone is looking up at the Spring-Ford Rams.
The area’s dominant program added another honor Thursday night at Methacton High School, overcoming rival Perkiomen Valley, 13-9, in the PAC championship game.
For Spring-Ford, the victory marks an impressive eighth consecutive PAC lacrosse title — and the Rams show no signs of slowing down.
“It’s next man up,” said victorious coach Kevin Donnelly. “That’s our story as a program — start over every day.”
That didn’t mean Donnelly wasn’t going to take a little time to enjoy this particular day.
“What makes this group and the whole program special is each year, new guys come in and shine,” he said. “I’m proud of this group because there were people who were looking at (2018) as a down year — they kept us going in the right direction.”
Senior Ryan Rosenblum was the one to shine Thursday, leading the charge for SF with four goals (three in the first half) while junior Peyton Gensler added a hat trick.
“In my senior year, my last PAC championship game — I wanted this one badly,” said Rosenblum. “It took us some time to get going, but once we started rolling, we weren’t going to be stopped.”
“A lot of guys understand the sacrifices that need to be made in order to win these championships — and that’s become a tradition in itself,” said senior attackman Jarrod Marenger (goal, three assists). “Hard-working individuals understand what needs to be done to succeed.”
Spring-Ford would take control in a third quarter that featured a far more deliberate pace than the run-and-gun first half where the two squads combined for 13 goals. After a quiet, defensive-oriented start to the quarter, a one-goal Rams margin would grow to a count of 10-6 in the final five minutes of the stanza, as Gensler, Brad Hart and Marenger each tallied.
Gensler completed his hat trick in the opening minutes of the fourth, and the Rams were well on their way.
An end-to-end first half featured hat tricks for players on each side as the offenses lit up the scoreboard. Gensler and freshman Nick Teets got the Rams off and running with early markers, while Rosenblum tallied late in the quarter. In the interim, PV was able to muster the first of Richie Marshall’s five goals on the day to cut the deficit to 3-1.
If you like high-scoring, offensive lacrosse, Thursday’s second quarter was a dream come true. Rosenblum (SF) and Marshall (PV) completed first-half hat tricks, and PV fought back from Spring-Ford tallies on three occasions to tie the game at 3-3, 5-5, and 6-6.
The Vikings were never able to take the lead, however, and Rosenblum’s third goal with 47 seconds remaining in the half gave the Rams their fourth one-goal lead. SF’s Kyle Pettine robbed Connor Roop on the doorstep as time expired, sending the Rams into the break up 7-6.
“Anytime you can make a save,” Pettine said after the game, “it boosts the whole team. Hopefully that (save) gave us a boost for the second half.”
Richie Marshall put up five goals for Perkiomen Valley, playing in the first PAC championship game in their program’s history.
“The last time we (PV) won a league championship was 2006, in the old Penn-Val lacrosse league,” said Vikings head coach Bryan Churchey. “So to get to this point was an important step for our program.
“Hats off to Spring-Ford — they were more consistent, and that something our program strives for.”
Both teams move into next week’s District 1 Class 3A Tournament and will begin play either Tuesday or Thursday, depending on Saturday’s seeding meeting.
“For us, we need to work on consistency and playing a strong four quarters of lacrosse,” said Churchey.
As for the Rams, while taking home the league title certainly hasn’t gotten old, it’s no longer enough to satisfy the emerging powerhouse program.
“We’re all hungry for the postseason,” said defenseman Gage Warrell. “Last year was our first time making states — we’re all a little mad (after last year’s loss to La Salle) and we want to show what we’re made of.”
“Coach Donnelly always tells us ‘it doesn’t have to be pretty, but the job has to get done,’” said Marenger. “From here on out, that’s our mentality.”
Final: Spring-Ford 13, Perkiomen Valley 9, PAC boys lacrosse championship. Rams reign runs to 8 straight pic.twitter.com/I8HoGEF6If
— Austin Hertzog (@AustinHertzog) May 10, 2018