Spring-Ford claims fifth straight PAC-10 title with OT win over Owen J. Roberts

Bucktown — The Pioneer Athletic Conference boys lacrosse final has had countless classic contests.

Last-second game-winners, overtime thrillers, an edge-of-your-seat occasion in each of the nine straight league championship games between Spring-Ford and Owen J. Roberts.

Why would 2015 be any different? It’s become a tradition.

Another tradition of the past five seasons was upheld Thursday night, too — Spring-Ford becoming PAC-10 champions.

The Rams rallied from two goals down twice in the second half to force overtime before junior Jake Hvazda was hailed as the hero as he buried the game-winning goal with 40 seconds left in overtime to give Spring-Ford an 8-7 victory over Owen J. Roberts, its fifth straight title.

“It’s a tradition now for us,’ Hvazda said. “We want to be the team that owns the PAC, to be known as that team. We kind of got scared here but we pulled it off.’

Hvazda, whose two goals were the game-tying and game-winning goals, was assisted by Danny Cassidy on the final tally after the sophomore carried the ball in transition and hit Hvazda on the right side, who fired a quick strike to beat OJR goalie Brandon Calle, who was superb in a 20-save performance.

“I have to give it up to Danny Cassidy,’ Hvazda said. “He was hauling down the field, great effort by him. I just caught it and finished it. I did the easy part.’

For Spring-Ford (19-1), which turns its attention to districts and the legitimate potential of a deep run, Cassidy had two goals while Kevin Todd and Josh Gliva had a goal and an assist each while single scores came from Carter Gensler and Ray Orcutt.

Owen J. Roberts (15-4) has gotten to know heartbreak in this contest in year’s past, but this season felt especially unjust, so much so that the other team believed they deserved to win, too.

“They’re definitely a good team but I think we have the guys that can pull it off (a comeback),’ Hvazda said. “They deserved it, definitely. But we came back and played our butts off.’

That doesn’t change the post-game feelings though.

“It has a special place in all of our hearts; we mark it (this game) on the calendar every year,’ OJR goalie Calle said. “We know for a fact that it’s not given and we found that out on Tuesday (rallying past Perkiomen Valley, 8-7).

“We wanted to be the first in four years to win it and it hurts a lot more when we play that kind of game. It’s a lot easier to lose when you don’t play that well. But to lose in overtime and to give everything you had, it hurts so much more.’

The Wildcats got two goals and an assist from midfielder Chris Kent, three goals from Austin Delgatto and a goal and two assists from Sam Garges.

With only one loss this season and the past title games to call upon, Spring-Ford’s seniors especially know how to summon a winning mentality, even when trailing 5-2 at halftime.

“We never stop believing in ourselves,’ senior defender Connor Crawford said. “All season, down or not, I never think we’re going to lose a game. I trust and believe in all my teammates and know we can do it as long as we work together. It’s a special team.’

The Wildcats were sharp on both ends in the first half, the most impressive part possibly being Calle and defenders Dan Hughes, Colton Pence and Matt Serbin holding the Rams to only two goals.

It lasted until 3:03 left in the third quarter when Todd and Cassidy scored goals with 14 seconds of each other. By the end of the third quarter, after Todd hit Gliva for a goal with 4.3 seconds left, it was tied, 5-5.

The Wildcats found new life to regain a 7-5 lead on goals by Delgatto with 8:07 to play. It would be their last score.

Gensler cut the deficit to one with a pretty cut inside before Hvazda hit the tying goal — while falling down no less — with 2:06 left.

Koury nearly won it in the last second of regulation but Spring-Ford goalie Chris Morgan (eight saves) came up with the crucial save.

Overtime was end-to-end action, Morgan again making a big stop on Colt on the fastbreak before Hvazda joined Kyle Neimann (2007), Zach Monzo (2012) and Paul Major (2013) as last-second league-final heroes for the Rams.

With the win, a second set of seniors complete their lacrosse careers unbeaten in PAC-10 finals for Spring-Ford. This year’s senior class features Crawford, Gliva, Zach Hare, Parker Hartline, Austin Pecharo, Michael Archey, Peter Bosco, Chris Kaercher, Danny Krieble, Austin Wechter and Jeffery Wilson.

NOTES — Rounding out the scoresheet for OJR was Jack Colt (one goal) while assists came from Austin Koury and Ben Hiltebeitel, who had the game-winning goal in Tuesday’s semifinal win over Perkiomen Valley. … The score in the final matched their first regular-season meeting, 8-7 Rams on March 28. Spring-Ford won the second on April 17, 13-8.

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