Fantastic face-off fuels Spring-Ford to 10-7 win over Central Bucks South

Royersford — The Spring-Ford face-off game barely seemed legal Thursday night.

So much so, the Central Bucks South coaching staff couldn’t help but question whether it was or not.

Justin Schwenk took offense. And then he took offense.

“The ref told me, ‘ Don’t touch your stick.’ He takes it and they’re checking it,’ the Rams junior face-off specialist said. “I was upset because they are questioning the legality of my game. I like to keep my game as legal as possible.

“When they called it legal I was there wanting to provide the spark for our team. I painted that picture in my head right before the faceoff. I visualized it and I was able to deliver it.’

Schwenk stole the show late in the third quarter after an illegal-stick check, winning the faceoff cleanly and carrying it to goal, powering through the Titans defense and hitting the net for a momentum-seizing goal as Spring-Ford went on to a 10-7 victory over Central Bucks South in the second round of the District 1 playoffs at Coach McNelly Stadium.

“In the locker room after school today, we were really focused and had our minds set on beating C.B. South and getting on to Saturday. It’s only the second time we’ve ever made it past the second round so it was on the mind of everybody to get past this game,’ senior Zach Hare said.Hare, a senior midfielder, had a first-half hat trick and Josh Gliva also had three goals while Danny Cassidy scored twice and Jake Hvazda had a goal and two assists for No. 5 seed Spring-Ford (21-1), which advances to the third round for only the second time (2011) and will meet No. 4 Springfield-Delco — a 9-6 winner over Downingtown East on Thursday — at noon on Saturday at Harriton High School.

C.B. South, which finished tied for first in the Suburban One League Continental and capped its year 14-5, got three goals from Brendan McGrath, two from Evan Falkowski and a goal and two assists from Jake Henze.

Spring-Ford goalie Chris Morgan had another confident display with 10 saves.

But the face-off game dominated by Schwenk and fellow junior Matt DellaCroce, a Monmouth and Michigan commit, respectively, was undeniable to the tune of 17-2 in favor of the Rams.

“Shoutout to our faceoff guys. Without them we wouldn’t have possessed the ball as much. Our defense definitely pulled through and Chris Morgan came up with some crazy, big saves and our clear game was really nice today, too,’ Hare said.

It was a fairly even game through the first half, Spring-Ford holding a 5-4 lead. Hvazda found a cutting Gliva for the opening score of the second half but the Rams went through their roughest patch of the game as the Titans cut it to 6-5 on McGrath’s goal.

Cassidy, a sophomore, put the Rams back up two (7-5) with 2:32 left in the third quarter, prompting the Titans to ask for Schwenk’s stick to be checked.

“We heard that the coach always checks someone’s stick,’ Hare said. “And when he does that coach Donnelly told us to get rowdy and show them that even with a stick check we can still beat you.’

Donnelly is known for running a tight ship, but it was just the moment to turn the game for his squad.

“That was definitely huge. Justin Schwenk doesn’t usually get to score a lot but he always practices it at practice. He’s always that guy that takes it down the field and gets yelled at by coach (because face-off specialists typically leave the field right after possession is established). When he does it in the game it’s fine.’

So fine that Spring-Ford followed it with goals by Hvazda and Gliva for a 10-5 lead with 9:51 left before seeing the game out down the stretch.

“We’re really excited,’ Schwenk said. “We feel like we can go deep in playoffs and we’re a team that is pretty confident in ourselves. We feel like we have the talent to do it and we’re looking forward to these games coming up to show teams who Spring-Ford is and to put ourselves on the map.’

NOTES — Also on the scoresheet for Spring-Ford were Danny Krieble and Ray Orcutt, each with assists. For C.B. South, Dillon Kelly also had a goal. … Schwenk may have seen into the future, being seen with a yellow softball in his stick on the sidelines during the game to help keep his stick head legal.

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