Springfield makes history by making state championships

At Springfield High School, it has a motto of being ‘Spartan tough.’ One of the aspects that spurs this motto is it is consistently one of if not the smallest school in the Suburban One League.

Last Tuesday when the girls water polo team made the state championships for the first time school history by beating Governor Mifflin 8-5 it created a story that is so Springfield.

The Spartans made history by becoming the first Class AA team to make the state championships.

“It’s a complete program win,” Springfield coach Bill Hence said. “Over the past five or six year we’ve really tried to develop the attitude of, North Penn is in our conference, we have to play with them, we can’t look at ourselves as a small school and we have to do all the things year round that those programs do.”

By the Spartans making the state championships this season it’s not just a ‘catching lightning in a bottle’ situation or season. It’s been the effort of the coaching staff and athletes for past four or five years and knocking on the door for last two or three and this year finally busting the door down.

“We’ve been on the verge of it for four years,” Springfield senior Elizabeth Leibfreid said. “We’ve always been close but this year we just finished off really strong.”

“I think its kind of good that we didn’t make it in past years,” fellow senior Meg Chandler added. “Because now we knew exactly what we needed to do to make it and we knew we had a strong team this year.”

Springfield will probably enter the championships as an underdog. The Spartans will go to battle with about 10 varsity players, bigger schools like North Penn, closer to 25. Springfield consists of mostly multi-sport athletes whereas other large schools will roll out deep team with exclusively polo players.

“If you go to a school like Souderton, I was a former coach at Souderton, you swim and you play water polo and you don’t do any other sports,” Hence said. “Fortunately by being in a community like Springfield, you swim you play water polo, you probably play lacrosse, you’re probably in the play, you’re doing so many things, that’s what makes it extra special.”

If you think the Spartans are a team just ‘happy to be in’ the state championships that would be a miscalculation as there will be several teams the Spartans will or potentially face that they have already beaten or played very close in the regular season.

“I think we can (make a run) because the teams that are seeded higher than us we’ve played with them,” senior Margrethe Leis said. “Its always really close and we know that we can play with them.”

“A lot our girls on our team are just as good as other teams,” Chandler continued. “We have all-state players, all-conference players, we can keep up with other teams.”

Anytime the calendar hits November and the fall season is still going it usually means two things. One, the current season has been going well and a deep playoff run is in progress. And two, health is of chief importance especially for a team working with limited depth and can’t afford anyone to go down due to injury or illness.

“Its something we’re aware of, they know if they’re sick not to be here because we can’t have something spread through our team,” Hence said. “If we lose three kids we could almost forfeit.”

Fortunately for Springfield it can check both boxes as it is obviously making run and taking every precaution to best assure health at this point in the season.

Although they may be small, the smallest, the Spartans will hit the pool November 13 as confident team with more than enough moxy and chemistry that they hope can turn any head that already isn’t.

“I think being a really small team helped us because we get to bond more and it translates into the water,” Leis said.

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