ROYERSFORD >> They both had learning curves to negotiate this fall.
But when their District 1 Class 4A playoff game ended Tuesday, Council Rock South showed a greater proficiency in dealing with its curve.
The Golden Hawks rolled to a 3-0 win over Spring-Ford at Coach McNelly Stadium. A team that, by the estimate of head coach Alan Nicholl, has a postseason for the first time in at least seven years finds itself taking the next step.
“We’re very organized, with our tackles and headers,” Nicholl said of his 19th seeds (13-5-1), who put the game away with a pair of goals in the second half. “Our seniors are motivated … they’re mature and disciplined.”
The 14 seed Rams (10-8-1), who saw 14 seniors from their 2020 team graduate, were stymied by South’s defensive intensity. The Hawks controlled the play at Spring-Ford’s end of the field for a good part of the first half, striking for the ultimate game-winning goal at the 19:28 mark.
“The Suburban (One League) always has tough competition,” SF head coach Brent Kissel said after huddling with his players one last time. “Sometimes, a lower seed does better than a higher one.”
South’s goal production started with Everett Kurtz sending a shot to the upper right-hand of the corner of the cage for a 1-0 lead. It added Frankie Rafferty’s shot, coning on the run from the left side of the cage, at 37:47.
The Hawks capped their scoring with 28 minutes left, Gavin Hagan converting a penalty kick.
“Our goals were scored in timely fashion,” Nicholl noted. “We had a timely goal in the first.”
Spring-Ford took a penalty kick as one of eight scoring attempts it tried over a 29-minute span of the first half. Each time, the Hawk defense and goalkeeper Kieran Barry left the Rams empty.
“I thought we were better prepared than the result showed,” Kissel said. “We had two quality finishes and a penalty kick.
“Living with mistakes … that’s something we talked about. But we didn’t do a good job.”
Starting their final game for Spring-Ford were seniors Justin Russell, Dylan Smith and Michael Sullivan, Classmate Eric Moriarity came on to play goal for starter Logan Hyduke toward the end of the game, making one big stop at 4:32.
They were at the forefront of the Rams’ reloading this fall. It included them going 6-6-1 in the regular season.
“We had success, to be sure,” Kissel said. “New players at the varsity level … making districts is a testament to what they did. I’m proud of that.
“It got bumpy at times. There was adversity, but they fought back and grew as a team.”
NOTES >> There was a stoppage of play at the 23:57 mark of the second half for South’s Shane Cohen, whose injury required him to be taken off the field by cart.