Eyes wide open, Springfield buries CB East

WEST GOSHEN — Three of the four teams taking part in the District One semifinal doubleheader at West Chester Henderson came out flat Tuesday afternoon, playing as though merely seeding, and not a district title, was at stake.

The fourth was Springfield.

The fourth-seeded Cougars bucked the sleepwalking trend, steamrolling Central Bucks East, 12-6, behind seven goals by Lucas Spence to book a date with Conestoga in Thursday’s title game.

The secret none of the Cougars’ fellow semifinalists could seem to discover was a self-perpetuating cycle: Start fast, get on the board, and let it snowball.

“It’s tough to get back up if you know you’re going to states, to keep competing,’ said freshman Kyle Long, who scored a goal and dished two assists. “The first quarter was a rough little patch for us today. But halfway through the first quarter, you get back into it. You get back into the game.’

The plan Tuesday wasn’t anything different than what Springfield usually tries to do, Long said, and that’s why it was so effective.

“I think we just played the way we usually play,’ he said. “We made sure we finished our opportunities. I think that gave us energy, and they didn’t have much energy not scoring.’

Both teams came off one-goal wins in Saturday’s quarterfinals to get to the PIAA Tournament, Springfield’s on Kyle Long’s goal with 13 seconds left against Spring-Ford and CB East in overtime against Garnet Valley. Ironically, a speedy start by C.B. East Saturday went a long way in laying the foundation for the win over the Jaguars.

But only Springfield (16-4) seemed capable of summoning that same intensity for the semis. They led 3-0 after one quarter thanks to two Dan Wasson tallies. At the half, it was 8-3, Spence providing four in the first half and Long dishing to fellow rookie Joe DeBernardi with 8.6 seconds left to claim back the momentum that Owen Griffin’s goal with 31 ticks remaining threatened to swing in the Patriots’ favor.

From there, Springfield simply smothered CB East. Zach Dworkin won 14 for 22 faceoffs (including 13 of 18 over the first three quarters). By the time the final quarter dawned, Springfield’s lead was an insurmountable 11-4, holding a shot advantage of a crooked 33-13.

“It was all of our emotions at the start of the game, a whole lot of energy,’ defensive leader Pat Smyth said. “It feels good to be back here again. We won the opening faceoffs and had a lot of momentum going forward, and we got it going offensively. It kept on rolling from there.’

About the only bright spot for East (18-3) was Griffin, who had a hand in all six goals with five markers and an assist.

Once the ball got rolling, Spence made sure it kept rolling. He was clinical with his finishing, adding two goals in the third quarter and capping the scoring at 3:18 of the fourth quarter. His shooting led to CB East goalie Sean McGovern, who made 16 saves against Garnet Valley, being chased at halftime.

“It just makes everybody’s life easier,’ Long said of Spence. “When he’s got everybody’s eyes on him, it opens everything up for us.’

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