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PAC Boys Soccer Championship Preview: Boyertown vs. Spring-Ford

Boyertown and Spring-Ford meet for the Pioneer Athletic Conference boys soccer championship at 5 p.m., Thursday night at Owen J. Roberts.

 A breakdown of the matchup: 

Boyertown (1) vs. Spring-Ford (3)

Records >> Boyertown: 8-1-1 PAC Liberty, 10-1-2 PAC, 16-1-2 overall, Liberty champion, No. 3 in District 1-4A rankings. … Spring-Ford: 8-2 PAC Liberty, 11-2 PAC, 15-4 overall, first wild card, No. 10 in District 1-4A rankings

Spring-Ford’s Brett Gulati controls the ball as Boyertown’s Matt Kerr defends. (Austin Hertzog – MediaNews Group)

Road to the final >> Boyertown prevailed in a tight battle with Owen J. Roberts, Landon Wenger scoring an overtime goal off a corner kick to win 1-0 in Tuesday’s semifinal … Spring-Ford made the most of a Brett Gulati penalty kick early in the second half to edge Frontier champion Pottsgrove, 1-0, in the semifinals.

PAC playoff history >> Boyertown has won four PAC titles, most recently going back-to-back in 2015 and 2016. It lost to Spring-Ford 2-1 in last year’s semifinals … Spring-Ford has had its share of angst in the PAC playoffs as runners-up the past two seasons (3-1 loss to Phoenixville in 2017, 2-1 loss to Perkiomen Valley in 2018). The Rams have won the title twice (2010, 2013).

Head-to-head >> Boyertown beat Spring-Ford in both regular-season meetings: On Sept. 12, goalie Mason Kurtz had eight saves and the Bears benefitted from a 79th minute own goal for a 1-0 win; on Oct. 3, the Bears scored two early goals off corner kicks, capitalized on a defensive miscue early in the second half and held off Spring-Ford’s rally attempt, 3-2.

Spring-Ford’s Brett Gulati, left, celebrates with Colin Trainor after Gulati scored a penalty kick in the second half during the PAC semifinals against Pottsgrove. (Austin Hertzog – Media News Group)

Rams at a glance >> With 70 goals – far and away a PAC best – the Rams lead with their attacking ability. The fabulous front 3 senior trio of Colin Trainor (13 goals, 12 assists), Brandon Duke (13 goals, 6 assists) and Brett Gulati (15 goals, 6 assists) provide consistent quality. Senior midfielder Ethan Mossip is the conductor of the Rams, while Connor Lynch, Tommy Bodenschatz and Nick DiNenna are key pieces in the midfield. The Rams’ defense features seniors Harry Bastable, Liam Murray, Christian Wuertz, junior Andrew Merchant and goalkeeper Tommy McPoyle.

Bears at a glance >> The Bears have not lost in 16 matches, dating back to Sept. 5. They are led offensively by junior center forward Nick Willson (8 goals, 5 assists), senior left-side forward Landon Wenger (8 goals, 6 assists), junior right-side forward/midfielder Matthew Kerr (5 goals, 4 assists) and junior midfielder Dimitrije Randjelovic (8 goals, 3 assists). Senior Jake Groff steadies play in the defensive midfield alongside Dante Folk and Drew Benning. Senior center back and captain Ryan Foskey leads in every way for Boyertown. He’s joined on defense by sophomore Matt Selders, senior Kolby Houck and sophomore Justin Patten. Goalkeeper Mason Kurtz has conceded just 11 goals all season (19 matches).

Boyertown’s Ryan Foskey (5) battles for the ball with Owen J. Roberts’ Ethan Gawlik during their PAC semifinal Tuesday. (Austin Hertzog – Media News Group)

Matchup >> The matchup favors Spring-Ford in the run of play with its attacking personnel holding the edge, though that isn’t to take away from the Bears’ creative players. Similarly, the midfields and defensive units aren’t separated by much. Boyertown’s greatest edge is its set pieces. The Bears scored two goals off corner kicks in their most recent meeting with S-F, and advanced over Owen J. Roberts in the semifinal by the same design.

Prediction >> Spring-Ford must have learned from its defensive lapses on set pieces in preparation for Thursday’s final. They were the difference between the finalists’ most recent match. S-F’s attackers will be desperate to hit full speed on Wildcat Stadium after being shackled by the tighter field on Wildcat North in the semifinals. Boyertown has churned out results in all kinds of circumstances since the start of September, even amid an injury crisis that is finally giving way to the good. The Bears will want to keep that streak going. But another streak will determine the championship: Spring-Ford’s need to end its run of losing in the PAC title game … Spring-Ford 2, Boyertown 1.

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