PAC Boys Soccer Final Four Preview: Perkiomen Valley vs. Upper Perkiomen, Spring-Ford vs. Upper Merion

The boys cap off the annual Pioneer Athletic Conference Final Four night at Owen J. Roberts Tuesday.

No. 1 seed Perkiomen Valley, the Liberty Division champions, takes on Upper Perkiomen, last year’s runner-up, at 7 p.m. in one semifinal. It’s Frontier champion Upper Merion against top wild card Spring-Ford in the other semifinal, running concurrently at 7 p.m.

The winners square off in the PAC championship game on Thursday, 7 p.m., back at Owen J. Roberts.

Perkiomen Valley (1) vs. Upper Perkiomen (4)

Records >> Perkiomen Valley – 9-1 PAC Liberty, 12-1 PAC, 17-1 overall, No. 3 in District 1-4A rankings … Upper Perkiomen – 8-2 PAC Frontier, 10-3 PAC, 13-5 overall, No. 3 in District 1-3A rankings

Head-to-head >> Matteo LoRegio scored twice and Nathan Brown had a goal and assist in Perkiomen Valley’s 4-1 win on Sept. 12, played over two days due to a lightning suspension.

PAC Playoff history >> Perkiomen Valley is four-time PAC champions (1987, 1997, 2001, 2018). Perk Valley last qualified for the Final Four in 2021 when it fell to Boyertown in the semifinals  … Upper Perkiomen is making its second trip to the PAC playoffs since 2004, when it was a league finalist the year prior to the start of the Final Four era. Upper Perk has won two PAC titles, the inaugural 1986 title and in 2003. The Tribe were surprise finalists last year after upsetting Phoenixville in the semifinals. They lost last year’s final 1-0 to Owen J. Roberts.

Perkiomen Valley at a glance >> The Vikings, in its fifth season under Zach Allen, have been a revelation this season, a far cry from the 5-12-1 season it recorded in 2022. The introduction of senior forward Nathan Brown has been the biggest reason why. In his first year playing high school soccer after spending his previous years playing in MLS Next with FC Delco, Brown has proven to be one of the most elite center forwards the PAC has seen. He’s well over 20 goals this year and solved PV’s scoring issues from 2022. Fellow seniors Christian Campbell and Sean Schoeniger have consistently been on the scoresheet as well while Lawson Finger and Chris Saboe-Moore have been other important figures from the senior class. PV also boasts key juniors in goalie Aidan Autovino and midfielder Matteo LoRegio.

Upper Perkiomen at a glance >> Upper Perk, in its 10th season under Kyle Fisher, returns to the PAC playoffs after a second-place finish in the PAC Frontier and a 13-5 record, which has it No. 3 ranked in District 1-3A. The Indians didn’t miss a beat despite the graduation of a sizable senior class. Upper Perk has scored a PAC-best 72 goals, getting its greatest scoring contributions from junior Matthew Fisher, senior Logan Watkins and junior Ethan Barr. Seniors Luke Gerstenberg (center back), Evan Sands (goalie) and Theo Deskevich (defensive midfielder) lead the Tribe defensively.

Matchup >> Upper Perk made waves in last year’s semifinals with an upset of then-undefeated and eventual PIAA semifinalist Phoenixville. It’s a similar setup to this season against the favored Vikings and their 17-1 record. Upper Perk has leaked too many goals against stronger opposition and PV certainly qualifies in that category. One would expect this semifinal to be the highest scoring one Tuesday night, which is nice for the neutral. It’ll also be nice for the finals-bound Vikings … Perkiomen Valley 4, Upper Perkiomen 2

Spring-Ford (2) vs. Upper Merion (3)

Records >> Spring-Ford – 8-2 PAC Liberty, 11-2 PAC, 13-3 overall, Liberty runner-up, No. 11 in District 1-4A rankings

Upper Merion – 9-1 PAC Frontier, 10-3 PAC, 12-5 overall, No. 16 in District 1-4A rankings

Head-to-head >> Spring-Ford and Upper Merion did not meet in the regular season. Their most recent matchup was on Sept. 12, 2022, a 3-2 Rams win.

PAC playoff history >> Spring-Ford has won two PAC titles, its last coming in 2013. The program has reached the final three times since (9 times overall) … Upper Merion returns to the Final Four for the first time since 2021. This is the school’s third appearance in the PAC semifinals. The Vikings have not advanced to the final.

Spring-Ford at a glance >> For all the turnover with the Rams from last season to this one, the program’s defensive record has carried over in first-year coach Jeremy Sharpe’s first year. The Rams have conceded a PAC-best 11 goals with standout senior goalie Logan Hyduke between the sticks. SF has six shutouts in its last eight outings. The spine of the defense features center backs Jake Wuertz and Chris Collins alongside outside backs Tyler Wellington and CJ Giles. Senior captain Cole Preschutti leads the forward line along with Max Exeter and Pat Clemens. In the midfield rotation are seniors Grant Miller, David Sierra and junior Bill Collins.

Upper Merion at a glance >> Upper Merion won the Frontier DIvision in 2021, had a reloading year in 2022 and put itself back on top this fall. David Lawrence’s squad has some dynamic attacking personnel who have scored 68 goals, second-highest in the PAC. That forward group is led by juniors Ben WIntersteen and Nick Dos Santos and seniors Arjun Kaushik and Josh Nguyen.  Sophomore Sean Rogers leads the defense in front of senior goalkeeper Dominik Doan.

Matchup >> Upper Merion has been in excellent scoring form of late with the team scoring at least three goals in its last five outings. Meanwhile Spring-Ford has been a difficult team to break down all season. It has conceded only five goals in 14 goals to teams not named Perk Valley. ‘Defense wins championships’ is one of the most overused sports cliches, but it exists because of its accuracy. At the very least, it wins this PAC semifinal … Spring-Ford 2, Upper Merion 0

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