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Central Bucks East holds off rival Pennridge in final seconds for District 1-3A first round win

BUCKINGHAM >> Nils Updale takes pride in his speciality.

“Almost every practice, I’m getting reps. While the other guys are out passing, I’m working at the ‘X,'” he said.

Central Bucks East’s “X Man,” Updale made sure the Patriots held an edge in faceoffs on Tuesday afternoon against rival Pennridge.

In a contest decided by the slimmest of margins, Updale’s expertise went a long way, helping East earn a 9-8, District 1-3A victory over the Rams and advance to a second-round matchup with Springfield Delco.

“All faceoffs are important, but when we have possession for the majority of the game, it’s very important,” Updale said.

Nils Updale contributed as a faceoff specialist for Central Bucks East in its win over Pennridge on Tuesday, May 18, 2021. Kev Hunter, MediaNews.

No. 11 East built up a 5-2 lead by the half and led 7-4 in the third quarter. No. 22 Pennridge pulled to within 7-6, 8-7 and 9-8 in the final minute, but the Patriots held on.

The Rams saw a fine season come to an end against their Suburban One League National Conference rival.

“We know we can hang with these guys. We played well the whole game,” said the Rams’ Chris Fanelli. “They got a lot of ground balls on the wings. We came out a little slow.”

Fanelli scored a pair of goals for the Rams, as did Ryan Carickhoff. Tom Hart, Jake Stranix, Conor Frisch and Frank Fanelli each added a goal for Pennridge.

The Rams got within a goal with about a minute to go and gained possession. They called timeout to set up a final play.

“We just wanted to get it to one of our middies, dodge downhill and get a nice shot on the run,” Fanelli said.

East came up with one more stop and was able to pass downfield to drain the final seconds. The Rams saw a fine season come to a close.

Pennridge huddles during its game with Central Bucks East on Tuesday, May 18, 2021. Kev Hunter, MediaNews.

“We’ve come a long way as a team,” Fanelli said. “There are a lot of games we wish we had back – overtime games, one-goal games…”

Nicholas Knepp scored back-to-back goals for East to provide a 2-0 lead early. The Patriots never trailed, and with Updale’s strength on faceoffs, East was able to control things the majority of the way.

Jonah Osborne scored a pair of goals for East, and Joey Stella, Matt Cipriano, Shane McEntire, Michael Skulsky and Luke Christmas each contributed a goal.

“This is always a great rivalry. It doesn’t get much better than this,” Knepp said.

“East has gone to the playoffs many times, taken good teams and gone to states. I think we can do it (against Springfield Delco). We may not be big but with the speed we have, we should be good.”

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