Nine days ago, Springfield walked off the field 5-0 losers to Harriton, a comprehensive whitewashing in the Cougars’ Central League opener.
Judging by the results since, the ramming delivered that day may have signaled a turning point for a veteran Springfield side. Since, they’ve battled hard against Strath Haven, dropping a 2-1 decision, and beaten Pope John Paul II.
The ultimate payoff, though, came Thursday night when the Cougars shocked Conestoga with a 1-0 victory.
That’s reigning District One champions Conestoga. Reigning PIAA Class AAA champions. A team that hasn’t tasted defeat since 2010. So what was the Cougars reaction to one of the biggest wins in the program’s recent history?
“They were very controlled after the game,” Springfield head coach Jason Piombino said. “They weren’t running around like they had just won a state title.”
It was a performance that lends credence to the notion that Springfield may boast one of the county’s best defenses. Dave Sousa was everywhere between the posts, stopping a number of one-v-one breakaways during a shooting gallery of a second half among his 20 saves. Sousa didn’t shy away from contact, taking the brunt of a few brutal collisions coming off his line.
One of those collisions, adding to the intense nature of the match, left a Conestoga player with a broken leg, causing a lengthy delay late on during the Pioneers’ feverish quest for an equalizer.
As much as Sousa deserves credit, so does his organized and tenacious backline. In addition to Luke Krauter and Mark Gurenlian, who combined for the Cougars’ only goal off a restart, Kyle Chevalier and Nick Fosco were among the stalwarts.
From the lowest of lows to the highest of highs, Springfield has a chance to lay the foundations of a district bid over a very short period of time in a heavily front-loaded schedule. They turn things around quickly to take on Penncrest Saturday – a game Piombino identifies as a “trap game” – and do battle with Marple Newtown 48 hours later before matching up with scuffling Garnet Valley next Thursday. Three positive results in those games could have the Cougars sitting pretty.