ROYERSFORD >> Hunter Hudak wasn’t having his best night in net during Spring-Ford’s Pioneer Athletic Conference Liberty matchup with Owen J. Roberts.
The senior goaltender had given up two goals on just two Wildcats’ shot attempts before stepping in to net facing a penalty kick from Owen J. Roberts’ junior Josh Fonder, who had scored the previous two goals, with his team already trailing.
“The first thing I was thinking about was practice, we did a whole session on PKs,” said Hudak, “I’d like to thank my goalie coach and the one thing he said was ‘Just breathe and choose a side’ and it worked.’”
It certainly worked as the senior saved Fonder’s shot attempt preserving the one-goal deficit.
From there it was all on the offense as Rams’ senior Abdulla Nuredini was able to put away a rebound opportunity to tie the game at 2-2, which is how it would end to give Spring-Ford the necessary result to clinch the PAC Liberty Division title.
Coming into the game the Rams (6-1-3 PAC Liberty, 8-2-3 PAC, 13-2-3 overall) could clinch the division with a win or a matching or better result to Methacton needed a win or a draw and a Methacton loss to clinch the division title, which they got after the Warriors lost their game to Perkiomen Valley.
“You can’t worry about the other results, the only thing we can take care of is what we do on this field,” said Rams’ head coach Brent Kissel, “We had to play our game and see where the chips fall.”
The Rams got an early goal off a long throw by Cole Dampf, which was headed in by Nate Alban for a 1-0 lead.
Later in the half the Wildcats would get on the board after Fonder would score his first of the game off a cross from Matt Pron tying the game up at 1-1 heading in the half.
Fonder would break the tie early in the second half when he scored his second goal of the game giving the Wildcats a 2-1 lead.
The Wildcats would continue to push the issue after Fonder had a good attempt hit the right post and then a foul in the box would lead to Fonder’s PK attempt.
After Hudak’s save on the PK with 17 minutes remaining, the momentum began to turn in favor of the Rams.
Spring-Ford would control the ball for most of the remainder of the second half only to have most of their opportunities turned away by the feisty Wildcats’ defense lead by Pron as well as juniors Dom Carrel and Beckett Houck and sophomore Christian Davis.
Wildcats’ goalie Ryan Walker finished with six saves including a huge stop with six minutes remaining on another Alban header.
With every passing minute the chances of a Rams’ division title seemed to be fading until Aiden Hudon played a free kick on goal which would be deflected right onto the foot of Nuredini and into the net, tying the game with just under two minutes remaining.
After playing two scoreless overtime periods the Rams would escape with a draw and the title.
“We all talked each other up and I’m really proud of them and they worked their butts off,” said Hudak who was thrilled with the comeback effort his teammates were able to complete.
The Wildcats entered the game out of PAC playoff contention but are very much in the thick of a district playoff spot after winning nine of their previous 10 contests.
“What this team had done after a 1-5 start, this 11-game stretch has been amazing and what these kids have shown is amazing,” said Wildcats head coach, Eric Wentzel, “It’s a shame we’re not in it, I feel like we could be dangerous in it with the roll we are on.”
The Rams will take on Perkiomen Valley in the first round of the PAC Final Four on October 17th at Owen J. Roberts.