Boyertown puts on block party to win PAC-10 championship, fend off Spring-Ford 1-0

BUCKTOWN >> Boyertown girls soccer head coach Bill Goddard has talked about the ‘sum of the parts’ more than a couple times over the years.

Sometimes it works that way, other times not.

Spring-Ford's Laura Suero (22) and Libby Andrews go up to header against Boyertown's Maria Garafolo in first half action. (Kevin Hoffman -The Mercury)
Spring-Ford’s Laura Suero (22) and Libby Andrews go up to header against Boyertown’s Maria Garafolo in first half action. (Kevin Hoffman -The Mercury)

Thursday night, on the biggest stage – the Pioneer Athletic Conference girls soccer championship game – it most certainly worked that way.

The Bears made Corinne Renninger’s first-half header hold up with a determined defensive effort to fend off two-time reigning champion Spring-Ford for a 1-0 victory and reclaim the PAC-10 championship on Owen J. Roberts’ Henry Bernat Field.

“I wanted this so badly,” midfielder Maria Garofolo said. “All the seniors did. It’s so great to go out with a bang in our last PAC-10 game.”

It was Garofolo’s header that set up Renninger’s eventual game-winner less than six minutes into the contest.

“We were ecstatic. The way Maria gets her head on the ball every single game has really helped us out. She really came through. And Corrine was in the perfect spot like she’s been a lot,” senior defender Taylor Landis said. “Everyone worked together to get the ball up there and those two had the focus and concentration to finish it.”

The goal largely came as a surprise so early against an opponent the standard of the Rams, but Boyertown put together a collective effort that was likely their best of the season.

Boyertown's Kaleigh Gallagher breaks down the field as Spring-Ford's Missy Moore chases during the PAC-10 final Thursday. (Kevin Hoffman - The Mercury)
Boyertown’s Kaleigh Gallagher breaks down the field as Spring-Ford’s Missy Moore chases during the PAC-10 final Thursday. (Kevin Hoffman – The Mercury)

After two straight years of heartbreak in the PAC-10 playoffs – 2-1 loss to Spring-Ford in the 2013 final, 2-1 loss to Pope John Paul II in the 2014 semifinals – Boyertown brought its best to return to the PAC-10 summit for the fourth time (2009, 2011, 2012).

“We have a lot of talent, but we have to work hard to achieve our potential,” Landis said. “We had to block everything, go 10 times harder then we’ve gone in every other game. We came in harder than we have all season, which I think we needed to.

“Even when we had struggles in this game, we had players covering for each other. We played like a team and like a family and backed each other up.”

Senior goalkeeper Sarafina Valenti capped her brilliant PAC-10 career in winning fashion, standing tall (10 saves) on the few shots that got past the compact, fast-closing defense of Landis, Erin Reitmeyer, Kyle Graver and Sam Brensinger, who just so happened to make her first start of the year at right back.

“It’s always been a sum of the parts thing with us,” Goddard said. “Sammy Brensinger plays right back for us. She hasn’t played right back all year and she did a tremendous job. A lot of key people – Sarafina’s had a heck of a career for us, Maria’s so steady, Sass (Taylor Sassaman) – everyone contributed in their own way. It was just a typical Boyertown girls soccer effort.”

The early break was all that the Bears could ask for as they were prepared to withstand the pressure of Spring-Ford’s top attacking personnel in Gabrielle Vagnozzi, Gabby Kane and Alayna Gairo and giving them little room to operate, which was part of the gameplan.

Spring-Ford's Bri Cirino splits the Boyertown defense of Lauren Haley and Corrine Renninger. (Kevin Hoffman - The Mercury)
Spring-Ford’s Bri Cirino splits the Boyertown defense of Lauren Haley and Corinne Renninger. (Kevin Hoffman – The Mercury)

“We did a lot of preparation,” Landis said. “We knew we had to stop them from turning because that’s something we struggled with early in the season. That was a goal we worked toward. That helped us in our mindset, knowing we had to shut them down and step to everything.”

Spring-Ford had its chances with 10 shots on goal, but shooting high of the goal on some of its best opportunities conspired against the Rams.

“The second half they threw everything at us and we had that bend but don’t break mentality,” Goddard said. “I would have liked to have seen us a little more active in attacking, but a lot of that pressure came in the way they played. But our kids responded.”

NOTES >> The Boyertown senior group features Valenti, Garofolo, Graver, Landis, Sassaman, Brensinger, Sarah Suever and Kylie Erb. … Spring-Ford keeper Alex Hyduke made five saves. … Both teams are headed to the District 1-AAA playoffs next week and at No. 3 (Spring-Ford) and No. 4 (Boyertown) both teams were in line for a first-round bye in Monday’s rankings.

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