By Dave Kurtz
Courtesy of PAC-10Sports.com
For Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 5/9/12
Raindrops keep falling on my head.
That had to be the sentiment coming from the Boyertown Bears, who saw a lightning-quick start washed away in a cloudburst of goals that produced a 21-9 Owen J. Roberts’ victory in the opening round of the PAC-10 Final Four semifinals Tuesday night at OJR South Field.
The deluge erased a 5-1 lead the Bears had secured by the end of the first quarter, and sends the Wildcats into Thursday night’s title showdown at Phoenixville (6 p.m.) against defending league champion Spring-Ford. The Rams moved on with a workmanlike 12-7 triumph over gritty Perkiomen Valley in Tuesday’s semifinal opener.
“We came together as a team, and starting doing the little things right,” said Ryan Kent, who finished with five goals. “We know how we can play and that nothing can stop us.”
Trailing 7-6 with 1:54 left in the first half, the Cats were unstoppable to the final horn, posting 15 unanswered goals between the end of the second quarter and into the fourth. Chris Antich (3 goals, 5 assists) and John Pennell (5 goals, 2 assists) started the run with strikes less than 8 seconds apart in the final 1:05 of the first half to put OJR in control, 8-7, at the break.
The intermittent showers that buffeted the field throughout the evening gave way to a tsunami of goals in the third quarter for the Cats. A 10-0 burst put OJR in front 18-7 heading into the final frame, and Kent’s goal just 26 seconds into the fourth quarter brought on the running clock.
“There was never any sense of panic,” said Pennell of the sluggish start. “We know what we’re capable of and we stayed very calm. We knew that our attack would eventually click.”
The click was audible throughout North Coventry Township as the Cats hit their stride.
“When we play 48 minutes, we know we’re tough to beat,” said Tyler Graham, who had five assists, two goals and countless draw controls. “We only played three-quarters of a game, and you saw what happened. We started slow but we knew there was a lot of lacrosse left. We made a couple of adjustments and started playing our game. We’re all very unselfish.”
Sharing is caring for OJR, which finished with 13 assists on its 21 shots. The remarkable offensive cohesion proved to be too much for Boyertown (8-6, 9-8), which got four goals from Tyler Fuhrman and a pair of strikes from Steve Monka.
“Whatever the other team is doing, we seem to be able to counter,” said Antich. “We play together as a team.”
That team will make a return trip to the championship game, which is the expected course for both the Wildcats and Rams. The PAC-10 will be hosting its sixth boys’ lacrosse title game, and each time the combatants have been the same.
“It took us a while to get untracked, but that was the way we expected it to end, getting back with Spring-Ford,” said OJR coach Jeff Neese after his club upped their record to 14-1 in league outings (14-5). “That was pretty nice, to play like that.”
Spring-Ford 12, Perkiomen Valley 7
Despite getting outshot 39-29 by the Vikings, the Rams had too much heavy-duty, precision artillery, setting up the rubber match with their long-time rivals.
Zach Monzo and Paul Major burned up the nets with five goals apiece for Spring-Ford, which snapped a 3-3 tie at the 4:48 mark of the second quarter when Steve Bock found the range off an assist from Major. The Rams (14-1, 16-3) closed out the half with three more strikes for a 7-4 lead at the break, countering a Jamie Klementisz connection with a pair of goals from Monzo (both off Major assists) and another from Major (unassisted) just before halftime.
“Our offense is pretty strong,” said Major. “Zach and I have been playing together for a long time and we know each other well, how to set each other up.”
The set-ups continued in the second half for the dynamic duo, who combined for another four goals after the intermission to keep the challengers at arm’s length.
“Too much Major and Monzo,” said PV coach Andy Wagner after the Vikings failed to get closer than three in the second half and wasted Sean Tornetta’s four-goal output. “Their goalie (Matt Messerle) played very well, too.”
Messerle was downright miserly, finishing with 17 saves and earning the praise of his teammates and head coach.
“Messerle just keeps getting better,” said Spring-Ford coach Kevin Donnelly. “He played great. We played good in spurts, and that seems to be the way we do it.”
The Rams do it with the deadly sniper fire supplied by Major and Monzo and a sturdy defense anchored by Messerle in the back.
“We try not to let other teams hang around,” said Major, who has a staggering 23 goals in his last four games. “We like to get up by a lot early and take it from there. Tonight was a little different, but we’ll take it.”