The Rams’ regular goalie, freshman Logan Hyduke, had suffered a foot bruise in their opening-round 1-0 win against Boyertown, and in the pre-game warmups Thursday it was touch-and-go whether he would be able to play in net against West Chester East.
“In the pre-game warm-ups, [we found that] Logan couldn’t go tonight, so we told Eric that he would be getting the start, and he played an amazing game for us,” said Spring-Ford head coach Brent Kissel. “He’s our backup goalkeeper, and we knew he would step up for us.”
Moriarity wound up making eight saves, including an outstanding stop of a West Chester East penalty kick in the 70th minute, to preserve the win.
Thanks to their 1-0 victory against East, the Rams (9-4-1), the No. 9 seed in the tourney, will host 12th seed Pennridge in the District 1 4A semifinals. Only the winner of the District 1 4A tourney will advance to States.
For East (6-1-2), it was their first loss – a bitter end to a season in which they allowed only seven goals.
Spring-Ford, which has posted a 6-1-1 record on the road, is a battle-tested veteran team that started 10 seniors Thursday evening.
“We have a seasoned senior class, and a lot of them have been in these [postseason] games and they know what the pressure is like,” said Kissel. “Yet winning back-to-back 1-0 shutouts in Districts is not easy; I’m so proud of this team.”
Thursday’s game was a defensive battle, in which both goalies made some outstanding saves.
West Chester East junior goalie Johnny Regester, who made a key save in overtime in the Vikings’ OT victory against 16th seed Souderton Monday, not only made some fine stops Thursday but his standout clears gave the East defense some breathing room.
Meanwhile, the Vikings were making Moriarity work hard in the net, but the junior Ram kept making stop after stop.
The game was still scoreless at halftime. Finally, in the 64th minute, Spring-Ford junior forward Justin Russell scored the game’s lone goal on a rebound after Ram senior defender Ekow Asomaning’s header was blocked by Regester. Russell’s shot hit the crossbar, and bounded into the net.
“I saw Ekow get the header, the keeper blocked it and went down, and I was trying to kick it above him into the net,” said Russell.
Kissel said, “We knew [Regester] is a top goalie, so we had to finish any chance that we had. Ekow played a little flick off the ball and JR [Russell] is just one of those scrappy players for us, he finds a way, he just blasted that ball into the net.”
Six minutes later, West Chester East senior midfielder Ryan Cogill was awarded a penalty kick, but Moriarity adroitly moved to his left to make an outstanding stop.
“I saw everyone pointing to the left side, so I had to trust [my teammates’] judgment and go left,” said Moriarity.
When the final buzzer sounded 10 minutes later, the Rams mobbed Moriarity.
“At the end of the game, I was so relieved, we fought so hard tonight,” said Russell. “Our intensity and preparation before the game [was great], and we left everything on the field. Through the highs and lows, we all fought together as a team to get it done, and we’re so happy to move on.”
Kissel said, “Really, I could name our entire team [as the standouts] tonight. Our midfield played great, the work rate from our forwards was outstanding, and the backline recorded their second shutout in a row.”
West Chester East head coach Charlie Dodds lauded his defense and goalie.
“Johnny has kept us in every game this year – there were many times that he has stood on his head for us,” said Dodds. “And our back four – Trey Mullen, Tye Greenawalt, Eric Bechtel and Joel Falkenstein – have done a great job for us.
“After the game, I told our team that sometimes the ball doesn’t bounce your way. We’ve had a number of 1-0 wins this season in which we got the good bounces.”
NOTES: The Vikings started seven juniors Thursday, but will lose a number of key seniors to graduation this spring.
“Losing Ryan Cogill will be tough,” said Dodds. “We also have some other seniors, like Eric Bechtel, [midfielder] Owen van Dyke and [defender] Aidan Clark. We’ll miss them.
“Looking forward, our biggest challenge will be who’s going to score for us. But we also have some promising underclassmen, like [sophomore] Matt Houp, who played outside mid and center mid for us, and as the season went on, he got better and better.”
Spring-Ford 1, West Chester East 0
Spring-Ford 0 1 – 1
West Chester East 0 0 – 0
Spring-Ford goal: Russell.
Goalie saves: SF – Moriarity 8; WCE – Regester 7.
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