BOYS CHAMPIONSHIP » SPRING-FORD 8, OWEN J ROBERTS 2
GRATERFORD » Things are back to normal in PAC boys’ lacrosse – in more ways than one.
After two years of cancellations, the first PAC Final Four since 2019 ended the same as all the others in the past decade – the Rams of Spring-Ford celebrating a league championship.
The top-seeded Rams topped No. 3 Owen J. Roberts, 8-2, at Perkiomen Valley’s Thomas J. Keenan Stadium Thursday night, claiming their 10th league title since 2011 and 11th in program history.
“We’ve got a group of guys who’ve worked hard for the past two years, taking care of the things that matter,” said victorious coach Kevin Donnelly. “Those things weren’t always under [the program’s] control. But we’re grateful to be here, and we cherish this opportunity.”
This year’s undefeated run through the PAC was accomplished using Spring-Ford’s triedand-true formula of consistency, depth, and contributions through the roster. But the Rams added a little sizzle this time around.
A defensive unit headed by assistant coach Kevin Czapor and backstopped by goalie Brad Venella put forth their best performance of 2022 on Thursday night, and that’s quite a statement for a unit that came into play allowing only 3.9 goals per league contest.
That average went down Thursday, as Venella’s 14 saves keyed an effort that saw SF hold the Wildcats scoreless for the first 35:55 of the game. Venella stopped the first dozen shots he saw, the highlight a stop on a short breakaway from OJR middie Gabe DellaPenna just before halftime.
“Coach always says, ‘next best play,’ and so I focus on what’s right in front of me,” said Venella. “On that play I saw the ball, came out, made myself big and got a piece of it.”
Meanwhile, the defense and midfield ensured Venella had all the help he needed, causing 21 turnovers and frustrating OJR to the point that just setting up an attack was often a challenge.
“We keep working, improving – honestly, two goals are still too many in our minds,” said captain Parker Smith. “We keep pushing to get better and stay motivated.”
OJR coach Mikey Zadroga admitted the Rams’ relentlessness can get into opponents’ heads.
“Our team is not confident that we can compete with Spring-Ford,” he said. “That’s the biggest thing we need to take away from this game, because until we believe that we can play with [the Rams], nothing will change.”
“But that’s why I call them the standard. They’re disciplined, dominant in one-on-one matchups, and they control the tempo.”