The Berks-Mont News (http://www.berksmontnews.com)

BOYS LACROSSE: Major's OT goal wins title for Spring-Ford


By Austin Hertzog, ahertzog@pottsmerc.com

Friday, May 10, 2013

PHOENIXVILLE — Paul Major had to have thought he’d seen it all when it came to the Spring-Ford-Owen J. Roberts boys lacrosse rivalry.
After last year’s game was settled with a game-winning goal in literally the final second in favor of the Rams, how could Thursday’s Pioneer Athletic Conference championship game be even more dramatic?
And then it was.
The ending was completely opposite of how Major and the Rams would have drawn it up. But that was regulation time, which wasn’t enough to settle the seventh consecutive league final between the Rams and Wildcats after OJR senior midfielder Nick Tordone fired in the game-tying goal with 11 seconds remaining.
So why not try something new for the entire Spring-Ford team?
“In all my four years I’ve never played in overtime,” said Major, the Rams senior attack. “We came close but have never gone to overtime. It was new experience for me. I knew I wanted to get the ball and do something with it.”
After regulation ended completely opposite of how they’d have drawn it up, overtime instead ended exactly how they’d have – with the Rams’ best player going to goal.
Major made no mistake, rolling from the backside, spinning around and firing in the game-winning goal to give Spring-Ford a 10-9 double-overtime victory for the Rams’ third straight league championship in a game perfectly fitting of the rivalry.
It was Spring-Ford’s fourth championship overall - the most recent three and the 2007 final they won 11-10 in overtime – to give the Rams a 4-3 series lead.
Major, last year’s Mercury All-Area Player of the Year, had three goals and an assist while fellow senior Christian McCormick, who helped get Major open on the game-winner, had three goals and two assists. Casey Pettine led with four goals and D.J. Young had two assists.
Owen J. Roberts was led by John Pennell’s three goals and three assists while Tordone, Will Snelling and Chris Antich (one assist) each scored twice.
“It’s a huge rivalry,” Spring-Ford’s Young said. “It was intense, stressful at the end. But I was so glad we pulled it out. It was the most intense game of my life.”
The overtime periods were truly anyone’s game. The Wildcats, boosted by tying the game for just the second time all game, actually had the better of the opportunities, but goalie Matt Messerle and Rams’ defense didn’t break.
It took until just ahead of the final minute of the second overtime for Major to get his chance to shine.
“We were running two guys behind the net,” he said of the game-winning sequence. “It wasn’t designed to run the pick but I called for the pick. I wanted to run right off it and come around to the net. It got my guy tied and I came around and got to the top side of the net and had the shot. I was going to wind up and shoot it from the outside but I realized (the OJR defender in front of me had fallen) down so I knew I could run in.”
The Spring-Ford senior class couldn’t have asked for a finer conclusion.
“It’s a great opportunity to play with the seniors we have,” Young said. “We’re all talented and so this season was a great opportunity to play with each other one last time.”
For the Wildcats and their most experienced players, it was a heartbreaking defeat in an all-too-familiar manner after last season’s final fall.
“I’m tired of losing tremendous games,” OJR coach Jeff Neese said. “I’m tired of being on the losing end of this series.”
After one quarter it appeared there would be little need for any overtime heroics. The Rams burst to a 5-1 lead, preying on an out of rhythm Wildcat team.
But by halftime OJR had cut the deficit to 6-4.
The third quarter featured some especially standout play from the goalies, Spring-Ford’s Messerle and OJR’s Christian Wood, but the Wildcats continued to chip away and eventually tied the game 6-6 off an Antich goal entering the fourth quarter.
The Rams came out in the fourth on fire with two goals in under a minute from McCormick and then Pettine. But again, the Wildcats hung around and scored the final two goals, first from Snelling at 3:21 left before Tordone’s version of late-game heroics in the closing seconds.
“I think there are a few kids who have the experience and talent to do the things that had to be done. And Nick came out and showed it,” Neese said.
“They score with 10 seconds left and I thought ‘This is exactly what happened last year.’ I was thinking the same scenario as last year, that we could pull it out,” Major said.
Just like last time around the Rams found a way to do just that.
So, how about that first overtime experience?
“It’s fun,” a grinning Major said. “A little nervous, but it’s fun. It’s where you’ve got to step up.”
NOTES
Sam Garges had two assists for OJR ... Both goalies, Spring-Ford’s Messerle and OJR’s Wood, had 16 saves. ... Even in defeat, OJR coach Neese praised the atmosphere which was enhanced by the large, lively crowd. “That was a huge crowd, so noisy. I couldn’t hear myself think. I had to run out on field just to talk to my players. That was great for the community, great for the league, great for lacrosse,” he said.
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