GRATERFORD >> Earlier this month, Perkiomen Valley High School unveiled a video screen addition to the scoreboard at Thomas J. Keenan Stadium. After Tuesday night, the next upgrade might include at least a few new light bulbs.
Perkiomen Valley’s boys lacrosse team and visiting Boyertown gave the new equipment quite a workout in a high-scoring, end-to-end game that saw the hosts outlast the Bears, 18-15.
“That was the most fun game we’ve played this season,” said Matt Horgan, who celebrated his senior night with a hat trick. “Offensively, everything really clicked tonight.”
With about 10 days left in the regular season, the Vikings face an uphill battle to qualify for the District 1 playoffs.
But Perkiomen Valley may have traversed its roughest terrain Tuesday. The result denotes a signature victory for the Vikings, undefeated in the Pioneer Athletic Conference, but winless outside of conference play (6-6, 6-0 PAC).
In toppling the Bears (11-3, 4-2 PAC), Perkiomen Valley took down the No. 2 team in the District 1-3A power rankings.
On the Vikings’ senior night, it was sophomore Bryce Coletta who stole the show, racking up a career-high seven goals and adding two assists for good measure.
Coletta, playing his first season for Perkiomen Valley, announced himself as a force to be reckoned with in the coming weeks – and years – as his emergence allowed the Vikings to submit their most complete offensive performance of the season.
“The energy was there – the boys were bumping,” Coletta said. “It’s nice to get a big win like this one.”
Horgan was joined by fellow senior Shea Fusco, who contributed a hat trick of his own, and Brad Curci with a pair of tallies.
“It’s a great senior night memory,” Fusco said. “I think everyone on our offense had a role.”
“It doesn’t matter who you’re playing,” added Curci. “When the energy is there, nothing beats that feeling. That’s what we had tonight.”
Perkiomen Valley roared out of the gate on the strength of midfielder Noah Delo, who was instrumental in the Vikings’ early advantage, taking possession on the game’s first 11 faceoffs.
Perkiomen Valley’s lead was 8-2 early in the second quarter before Boyertown got rolling behind big nights from Gage Parker (four goals), Mason Barndt, Gio Daddario, and PAC leading goal scorer Aidan McFalls (three goals each).
The Bears closed within 9-6 before the Vikings began another 3-0 run to re-open the halftime advantage to a half dozen, 12-6.
The second half was almost as fast paced, but the Bears were never able to get closer than three goals.
One reason was the inability to stay out of the penalty box. Boyertown took 11 whistles on the night, and Perkiomen Valley was deadly with the man advantage, scoring seven times.
“We’re a physical team, and I know that’s going to mean some penalties,” Boyertown coach Grady Wise said. “But tonight we didn’t come up with enough stops.”
The win will improve the Vikings’ own perilous standing. Perkiomen Valley stood at 29th in the District 1-3A rankings to start this week, in a district where the top 24 teams will qualify for the playoffs.
“We lit it up offensively, but defensively we need to be more disciplined,” Vikings senior Vance Junker said. “Allowing 15 goals isn’t great.”
It seems almost impossible that a team undefeated in conference play at this juncture of the season would stand in danger of missing the playoffs, but that’s the reality for a Perkiomen Valley squad whose perennially challenging non-conference slate led to an 0-4 start to the 2023 season.
The Vikings have five games between now and next Saturday, but it doesn’t get any easier with co-PAC leader Spring-Ford and Pennridge — a top-five team in District 1 — looming next week.
Boyertown still stands in strong position for both PAC Final Four qualification as well as a first-round bye in the District 1 playoffs, which is awarded to the top eight teams in the final power rankings.
But after consecutive PAC losses to Spring-Ford and Perkiomen Valley, Wise stressed starting fresh will be crucial.
“Every day, we start 0-0,” Wise said. “But today, we were 0-1. We didn’t play a full four quarters of lacrosse. It’s hard to recover from allowing 12 first-half goals.
“When the unforced errors start to pile up, it’s hard to win games.”
It might sound strange in a game that featured 33 goals, but standout performers on the defensive side were Perkiomen Valley freshman goalie Christian Jones, who came in relief of Sam Dogonniuck and made his varsity debut with a half-dozen second-half saves, and the respective defensive short-stick midfielders, Vikings senior Ryan Klimek and Boyertown junior Jason Oakes.
Klimek single handedly cleared the ball for Perkiomen Valley multiple times on end-to-end runs, while Oakes helped the Bears close the possession deficit with dogged work on faceoffs and rides.
“I just do what I know best – and that’s running,” said Klimek, an All-Area running back playing lacrosse for the first time as a senior. “I use my stamina and speed to get the ball back for the offense.”
“It’s the little things,” added Oakes, when asked how he stays focused on defense in a run-and gun contest. “Passing, catching, those are the easy things for us to work on.”
But nothing came easy for either side Tuesday night. And for fans who enjoy high-scoring lacrosse, the good news is there’s a chance the two teams will see each other again in the PAC Final Four two weeks from now.
“We’re just going to go back to work – watch some film and create a game plan that puts us in position to get another win,” Horgan said.
Notes: Perkiomen Valley honored seven members of the class of 2023 before Tuesday’s game in the team’s Senior Night ceremony.
The program recognized Brad Curci, twins Colin and Noah Delo, Shea Fusco, Matt Horgan, Vance Junker, and Ryan Klimek for their contributions to Perkiomen Valley lacrosse over the past four years.
Perkiomen Valley 18, Boyertown 15
Gage Parker 4 goals, assist
Gio Daddario 3 goals, 2 assists
Aidan McFalls 3 goals, 2 assists
Mason Barndt 3 goals
Tyler Diffenderfer goal, assist
Ryder Gehris assist
Jason Oakes assist
Mike McMahon 5 saves
Bryce Coletta 7 goals, 2 assists
Matt Horgan 3 goals, 3 assists
Shea Fusco 3 goals, 2 assists
Brad Curci 2 goals
Noah Delo goal, 19/29 faceoffs
Patrick Lamirande goal
Connor Macklin goal
Vance Junker assist
Sam Dogonniuck 3 saves
Christian Jones 6 saves