By Dave Kurtz
Courtesy of PAC-10Sports.com
Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 4/3/12
The true measure of Kevin Donnelly’s impact on the boys’ lacrosse program at Spring-Ford goes far beyond the numbers.
Sure, 100 career victories – a milestone achieved Monday night when the defending PAC-10 champions held off fierce rival Owen J. Roberts 14-10 – is a significant achievement.
But the three-digit landmark pales in comparison to what Donnelly has built with nothing more than a dream and a vision. It took nine years and plenty of hard work for the Rams to get to this point, but Monday night the architect finally got a chance to step back and admire what he has helped create.
“We’ve come a long way since that first year when we had a single win,” said Donnelly after Spring-Ford maintained a share of the PAC-10 lead at 3-0 with Boyertown. “It’s all been positive. The guys have worked hard to get us where we are.”
The hard work has paid serious dividends for Donnelly, who gazed up into the stands and got a taste of what he’s fashioned from a few raw materials. He looked squarely into the eyes of his coaching staff and players and saw the pride and camaraderie they all share.
It really means something to be wearing a Spring-Ford lacrosse jersey these days.
“There were a handful of guys that came back for this game, some guys were on leave from boot camp,” said Donnelly. “When they found out it was Owen J., they were pumped. They all wanted to suit up.”
The Wildcats, who saw their three-year run as Pioneer Athletic Conference champions end at the hands of Spring-Ford in 2011, were equally jacked up for the challenge.
OJR showed its readiness when Ryan Kent found the net on an assist from John Pennell just 24 seconds into the first quarter. But Spring-Ford had an immediate answer, closing out the period with five unanswered goals from Paul Major, Christian McCormick, Zach Monzo, Alec Orcutt and Justin Kelly.
“Every time we play Owen J., we try to turn it up,” said Monzo, who equaled a career-high with five goals and added an assist. “We’ve been waiting all weekend for this game. We have a lot of good players, and we were all in rhythm.”
The Wildcats found a rhythm of their own after falling behind 7-2 on McCormick’s second strike at the 7:21 mark of the second. Getting three goals in a span of 1:58 from Nick Tordone, Mike Lenge and Chris Antich, OJR was within 7-5 before Monzo closed out the half with two goals – one unassisted and the second on the EMO (assisted by Casey Pettine) with 12 seconds left before the break.
Spring-Ford stretched its advantage to 13-7 early in the fourth quarter, but the Cats struck back with a three-goal run to cut the gap to 13-10 with 4:02 remaining.
“We were consistently inconsistent,” said Donnelly. “We played very well in some spot. You know when you’re playing them, they’re going to get some runs. We got some key defensive stops. Our goalie (Matt Messerle) had some real big saves off some stick bounces.”
The final bounce went the Rams’ way when Monzo scored off the two-man advantage at the 1:55 mark to seal the deal.
“We had every opportunity to win this game, but we just made too many mistakes,” said OJR coach Jeff Neese after his club slipped to 2-1 in the league and 2-2 overall. “If we don’t cut our turnovers in half it’s going to be a long year.
“We’re a different ball team. We’re young, but there’s no quit in our kids, they worked their butts off. Our third middie (Kurt Wilkinson) comes in and gets us a goal. Spring-Ford is a good team that moves the ball well, but we were right there with them.”
Spring-Ford is right there, too, after a long climb, standing atop the PAC-10 on the heels of an unbeaten league season in 2011.
“We just take it one step at a time,” said Donnelly. “We try to keep focusing. Our goal every year is to outdo the team that came before us.”
Keep the bar raised high – never stop reaching for the sky. The building process is an ongoing one – building pride and relationships. Monzo fully understands the concept.
“We never stop working together,” Monzo said. “This is a brotherhood.”
And more than the 100 wins, that was always the objective.
Spring-Ford 14, Owen J. Roberts 10
Owen J. Roberts 1 4 2 3 – 10
Spring-Ford 5 4 3 2 – 14
Owen J. Roberts
Nick Tordone 3g
Chris Antich 1g
John Pennell 1g, 2a
Tyler Graham 1g, 1a
Ryan Kent 1g
Mike Lenge 1g, 1a
Kurt Wilkinson 1g
Goalies: Matt Boyer 4 saves, Matthias Szczepanek 5 saves
Paul Major 2g, 2a
Zach Monzo 5g, 1a
Christian McCormick 2g
Alec Orcutt 1g
Justin Kelly 1g, 1a
Zac Hare 1g
Ian Hare 1a
Steve Bock 1g
Casey Pettine 1g, 1a
Goalie: Matt Messerle 10 saves