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Souderton holds on to beat Owen J. Roberts, earns first playoff win

FRANCONIA >> Five goals by Cole Witoslawski, two late ones by Brock Azeff, and the culmination of six years of hard work by coach Mark Princehorn fueled an 11-10 District 1-3A first-round victory that Souderton Area could savor.

“First team in the program’s history to win a playoff game,” Witoslawski said after the back-and-forth battle with Owen J. Roberts Tuesday night, “so it feels really good to be the team that did that.”

Tenth-seeded Souderton advances to a second-round contest at No. 7 Avon Grove on Thursday. Azeff scored twice in the final five minutes, the second providing an 11-9 lead, and the Indians — backed by several alumni on the sidelines — held on to earn their historic victory.

“To see what we’ve been able to do, in the face of some serious adversity this season,” Princehorn said of his squad, which lost standouts Stephen Blue and Walker Martin to injury early in the season, “just speaks the world about my guys.”

In addition to Witoslawski’s five goals, Azeff finished with three, Luke Halteman had a pair and George Evanick added a tally. The Indians were also persistent in the back.

“Total team win. The guys played absolutely out of their minds,” Princehorn said. “Cole showed what he’s all about. Axell Beskar, the entire defense, Luke Atiyeh, Luke Wawrzynek — in faceoffs — all stepped up for us. Brock and Luke had career days.

“It’s guys that have been coming to practice every day and fighting, working.”

A goal by Witoslawski gave Souderton a 7-5 edge in the third quarter before Owen J. roared back with three straight, the last by Logan Clefisch to give the No. 23 Wildcats an 8-7 edge.

Witoslawski tied it before the end of the third, and then Souderton worked the ball around until finding the right shot, by Evanick, to go up 9-8 early in the fourth and never trail again.

Christian Brofft, who, along with Clefisch, had a hat trick for OJR, scored with 12 seconds left to bring the visitors within 11-10, but Souderton held on.

“We were hoping to send it to overtime but we just missed by a little bit,” Wildcats coach Ben Carville said of the Wildcats’ final shot as time expired. “It kind of seemed to be what happened to us all day offensively.

“This is a phenomenal group of guys. This senior group was as dedicated as you can get.”

Witoslawski’s hat trick was part of a back-and-forth first half.

Clefisch gave the Wildcats a 1-0 lead before Witoslawski answered for Big Red.

OJR again went ahead, this time on a goal by Christian Brofft, but then Witoslawski scored his second, evening things at two apiece.

Cooper Chamberlain pushed the Wildcats in front, 3-2, but more Souderton passes began to connect, as Matt Rauch set up Azeff to deadlock things at three apiece at the end of the first quarter.

Witoslawski put in his third of the contest to give Big Red their first lead early in the second. Clefisch tied it for OJR and then Rauch was at it again, feeding Luke Halteman on consecutive goals to provide a 6-4 Souderton advantage at the break.

“The offense was playing well,” Witoslawski said. “We were winning our individual matchups and shooting well so overall it was a good offensive and defensive effort too.

“When we got those last two goals at the end, I got very excited and we just tried to hold them off at the end there. I was having a good time scoring and I’m just excited for our next game now. I’m excited to make the trip out (to Avon Grove).”

Souderton 11, Owen J. Roberts 10
Owen J. Roberts 3 1 4 2 — 10
Souderton 3 3 2 3 — 11
OJR goals: Logan Clefisch 3, Christian Brofft 3, Cooper Chamberlain 1, Ben Colt 2, Nick Kilgallon 1.
Souderton goals: Cole Witoslawski 5, Brock Azeff 3, Luke Halteman 2, George Evanick 1.




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