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Poised Spring-Ford sees off Boyertown to become last PAC unbeaten

BOYERTOWN >> The Spring-Ford boys lacrosse team is used to getting everyone’s best shot.

That’s life when you are eight-time defending champion of the Pioneer Athletic Conference.

It’s also why a late-April afternoon trip to Boyertown to face a fellow PAC undefeated opponent in the Bears wasn’t cause for too much alarm. The Rams are accustomed to coming through in these spots.

That poise paid off in a serious way Thursday as the Rams made a two-goal lead for the bulk of the fourth quarter more comfortable than it should have been en route to a 7-5 victory over the Bears.

Spring-Ford’s Peyton Gensler, left, carries the ball in transition as Boyertown’s Shane Clinton defends Thursday. (Austin Hertzog – MediaNews Group)

Spring-Ford (9-4 overall) improved to 7-0 in the PAC while handing Boyertown its first league defeat (6-1, 9-4). Senior Peyton Gensler scored four goals while single scores were turned in by Collin Pettine, William Wojton and John Pergine. Stephan Westlake and Nick Teets had assists.

“Our hustle and effort was completely there today,” said Spring-Ford senior defender Dean Costalas. “There’s a certain level of confidence and faith in everyone on the team that they are going to do their job.

“We always come out with the intention of giving our best and always coming out with the result we’re happy with regardless of who it is.”

Spring-Ford’s Collin Pettine, left, tries to get past the defense of Boyertown’s Jackson Novak during their game Thursday at Boyertown. (Austin Hertzog – MediaNews Group)

Boyertown, which got two goals apiece from Brady McFalls and Mike Federico, could take heart from the result as well, proving their 6-1 PAC mark isn’t a fluke by playing to within two goals of the PAC’s ‘gold standard.’

“We told our guys, the gap has closed. Today was an example of that,” Boyertown coach Grady Wise said. “But Spring-Ford executed today and we didn’t. We struggled with clears, struggled to finish our looks when we had them. We didn’t score in transtion and they did, that’s the difference-maker.

“Spring-Ford is well-coached, they’re athletic, they’re the gold standard of the PAC … if you don’t execute better than them they are going to win. But I’m happy with our heart, our hustle and our fight. This was a really good learning experience for us. We want to see these guys again – that’s the goal.”

That possibility would come in two weeks during the PAC Final Four, the final set for May 9 at Upper Merion.

Boyertown’s Brewer Johnson (53) tries to get around a Spring-Ford defender as Rams goalie Ben Swarr follows the play. (Austin Hertzog – MediaNews Group)

A three-goal spurt in a two-minute span early in the second quarter proved a pivotal stretch. Tied 2-2 after one quarter, the Rams scooted to a 5-2 lead, two tallies coming from Gensler.

“For whatever reason we have a tendency to start games slow,” Gensler said. “Today we didn’t have the best start, but we put a few in the back of the net and slowed down toward the second half, which is normally opposite of what we do. We’ve been trying to find the answer to the slow starts all year.”

The Rams weren’t able to build on the 5-2 lead with the Boyertown defense, which features Shane Clinton, Jake Miller, Trey Lignelli and goalie Rob Wood, not letting things get away.

Spring-Ford made things especially difficult for the Bears to clear the ball in transition in the second half, Nick Teets forcing a turnover that led to a Gensler ride-back goal made for a statement of intent early in the third quarter for a 6-3 lead.

“Coach (Kevin) Donnelly stresses riding all the time,” Gensler said. “He stress it so much, our defense shouldn’t have to play defense because our offense is playing such great defense. He really stresses trying to make them turn it over in our zone and loves a good ride-back goal.”

The Rams’ ride played a large part in the lead feeling larger than it was. The lead could have been larger, too, save for at least four shots off the post for S-F.

Spring-Ford’s Stephan Westlake (48) passes to John Pergine (17), foreground, for a goal against Boyertown Thursday. (Austin Hertzog – MediaNews Group)

Boyertown kept pushing and had the margin down to 6-4 after Federico’s goal with 7:59 to play, but it could never find the necessary momentum to surpass the Rams and the defensive unit led by Costalas, Blake Terrizzi, Ryan Kolander and goalie Ben Swarr.

While Spring-Ford stayed unbeaten in the PAC, it’s yet to beat any of the highly-rated southeast Pa. teams on their challenging non-league schedule. But Costalas believes the page is turning and the Rams’ trajectory is on the right course.

“I think everything’s starting to settle. The pieces are starting to click together. I think you can start to see a little bit more energy, more chemistry,” Costalas said. “It’s all about gaining momentum instead of decreasing momentum going into the second half of the season. You can definitely see flashes that can take us very, very far, but I think there are always things in the game, on film that you can find to fine tune and get better.”

Spring-Ford turns its attention to the Katie Samson Festival at Radnor this weekend where it faces Springside-Chestnut Hill before closing out the PAC slate with Methacton and Owen J. Roberts next week.

“We have a while until our second season begins and we see any of these guys again. Even though (the performance) wasn’t exactly what we wanted, we came in, grinded, and got the result we wanted.

“We have a couple out-of-league games, a little bigger of a test than usual – however, this is a nice step off until we meet them again.”

NOTES >> Other scorers for Boyertown were Griz Eardly, who had a goal and an assist, while Alex Axman and Brewer Johnson each had an assist. Goalie Wood made eight saves. … S-F’s Swarr had seven saves.

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