COLLEGEVILLE - Defense. Defense. Boyertown's girls lacrosse team knows how to shut opponents down. The Bears displayed that prowess again Thursday night in the Pioneer Athletic Conference championship game against Spring-Ford on the turf at Ursinus College's Eleanor Frost Snell Alumnae Field.
The Bears broke open a close 6-2 game at halftime by outscoring the Rams 8-1 in the second half to claim a 14-3 victory and the school's fourth consecutive league title.
Boyertown smothers teams at one end of the field and the offense is just as productive at the other end.
It marked the third win of the season for Boyertown against Spring-Ford with the other contests ending in 14-1 and 16-6 triumphs. The Bears and Rams finished 1-2 atop the PAC-10's Division I standings during the regular season to qualify for the Final Four along with Division II leaders Pottstown and Lansdale Catholic.
"We tried," Boyertown coach Pam Wernersbach understated about her defense. "Spring-Ford played really well. They (Rams) are more inexperienced than my kids."
Seniors Ali Furman and Erin Reichart plus junior Megan Corrigan anchored the defense for the Bears along with junior goalkeeper Ashley Harman, who made eight saves with six of them coming in the first 25 minutes of play, before giving way to senior Ashlie Berghold in the closing moments of the game.
Boyertown has 10 seniors on its rosters with seven of them in starting roles. Spring-Ford, on the other hand, has seven seniors and three of them are starters.
Senior Tia Mazzie scored four goals and had two assists for the Bears (17-1-1) while junior Maggie Tamasitis notched four goals and one assist. Senior midfielder Kylie Matthews also had a four-goal game for Boyertown. Senior midfielder Kayla Robinson and sophomore midfielder Lyndsey Babilon chipped in with single tallies for the Bears.
Junior attack Allie Kakareka scored a pair of goals for the Rams (11-8) while sophomore midfielder Ashley Wood checked in with one goal plus two assists. Senior goalie Kelly Dixon registered 10 saves for the Rams with five in each half.
"We had a great first half," said Spring-Ford coach Kristi Schellinger. "Our level of intensity dropped in the second half. I thought overall we played right with them except for scoring.
"Boyertown has great stick skills, switching with right and left hand. That is what we have to improve on for next year."
The Bears took a 2-0 lead in the first five minutes of action on goals by Tamasitis with Tia Mazzie assisting on one tally. Boyertown never trailed after that start, although the Rams came within 2-1 at 17:59 and 3-2 at the 14:39 mark on goals by Wood and Kakareka, respectively.
"I have a team heavy-laden with seniors," said Wernersbach, who is assisted by Doug Deysher and Dulcie Rothermel. "They are younger, which bodes well for them in the future. They played very well.
"Our defense has been doing better and better as the season was going along. They understand they don't usually get recognition, but they do a great job."
Matthews, Mazzie and Tamasitis scored three unanswered goals in the last 7:55 of the first half to give the Bears their four-goal cushion at the break. Boyertown opened the second half with a three-goal spurt by Matthews, Robinson and Mazzie to expand the lead to 9-2 at the 15:38 juncture.
Wernersbach felt a bit uneasy about playing Spring-Ford for the third time this season.
"I didn't feel very comfortable about it," Wernersbach said. "Each game they (Rams) have gotten progressively better. We rely on our leadership and experience and hope we put on a good show on the field."
Schellinger was proud of her troops, too.
"We were right with them defensively, in the midfield and in passing," said Schellinger, who is aided by Kori McDaniel and Elaine Ruppert. "It was just the goals, but it was a great learning experience. We lose players at two key positions, but everyone else is returning so this was a great learning season. We were younger and overall I am really happy for our season."
BOYERTOWN 14, SPRING-FORD 3
Spring-Ford 2 1 - 3
Boyertown 6 8 - 14
Goals: SF-Allie Kakareka 2, Ashley Wood 1.
Boy-Tia Mazzie 4, Maggie Tamasitis 4, Kylie
Matthewa 4, Kayla Robinson 1, Lyndsey Babilon
Saves: SF-Kelly Dixon 10. Boy-Ashley Harman
8; Ashlie Berghold 0.