Owen J. Roberts escapes Perkiomen Valley’s upset bid in PAC-10 semifinals, 8-7

BUCKTOWN — The Owen J. Roberts boys lacrosse team was staring at a harsh reality.

The Wildcats were a half away from being the program’s first to miss the Pioneer Athletic Conference final.

“At halftime we realized this could be our last time on this field and for all 18 of our seniors it was a big eye-opener,’ junior Austin Delgatto said. “That was the halftime speech, that this might be the first (Owen J.) team ever to not make it. We had to pull together.’

It took a rally from a four-goal halftime deficit and a shutout from the Wildcats defense, but the threat of being on the wrong side of history didn’t get its clutches on the Wildcats as senior midfielder Ben Hiltebeitel netted the game-winning goal with 1:03 remaining as Owen J. Roberts escaped Perkiomen Valley, 8-7, in the PAC semifinals Tuesday night on OJR’s Wildcat South Field.

OJR (15-4), which will face Spring-Ford in the league final for the ninth-straight time, required a comeback after trailing 7-3 at halftime but got just that from a defensive unit led by Dan Hughes, Colton Pence, Matt Serbin and goalie Brandon Calle (eight saves) that didn’t give up a goal in the final 24 minutes.

The pressure was eased by a Wildcat attack — led by Delgatto’s three goals and multi-point scorers Sam Garges (two goals, one assist), Jack Colt (one goal, one assist) and Chris Kent (one goal, one assist) — that settled into the second half and worked its way back.

PV (12-6) got two goals from Matt Baker and Ben Minardi, three assists from Brian Fehr and superb goalkeeping from sophomore Kevin Mo, who had 19 saves.

Yet it was a crushing finish for an upstart Vikings team that erased the memory of a 15-6 loss to OJR just a week earlier.

“It was two great teams battling it out for that final spot,’ PV coach Bryan Churchey said. “We told the kids, this is going to be something we learn from and build on for next year. We’ve never led in a Final Four ever. That was completely new ground for us, for our coaching staff.

“We’re going to get better from this.’

PV went toe-to-toe with OJR early before Baker’s goal off the faceoff triggered a 5-0 run over the last 6:08 of the second quarter. Through goals by Brian Subers (two-man advantage), Mario Scotese, Minardi and Baker, the Vikings went to break with an improbable 7-3 lead.

“I think we kind of surprised ourselves. We came out so strong. That was probably the two best quarters we’ve played all season to be completely honest,’ Churchey said.

“We played an outstanding two quarters, but it comes down to having to play four quarters of lacrosse. We really just needed one more goal and we couldn’t seem to punch it in. Credit the Owen J. goalie, he made some really good stops down the stretch. They got a couple goals early and they started to churn away at our lead.’

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