ROYERSFORD — To hear David Gulati tell it, the seniors on the Spring-Ford boys soccer team are more tightly-knit than a cardigan sweater.
"We have such great unity,' said Gulati, a midfielder in his fourth year with the Rams varsity. "Everyone gets along, and we're all best friends off the field.'
That brotherly bond helped the Rams cement their legacy Thursday night at Coach McNelly Stadium, as they outlasted Perkiomen Valley, 4-3 on penalty kicks, after a scoreless duel through 110 minutes of regulation and overtime.
Jerry Williams, Dan DiLiberto, Gulati and Nick Bombard each connected for PK goals for Spring-Ford (16-2-1), with keeper Pat Swartz's save on Perkiomen Valley's Matt Genuardi sealing the Rams' first PAC-10 title since 2010.
"We seniors have been playing together since we were all like 11 years old,' said defender Kole Lyons. "It feels great to finally achieve what we wanted to do for so long. I think we were all really motivated; we wanted it bad.'
The exhilarating win helped wash away the bad taste from last year's final, when the Rams suffered a 2-1 overtime loss to Boyertown.
"I think these guys were hungry,' said Spring-Ford coach Doug Landis, who starts eight seniors. "They wanted to come back this year and make sure that didn't happen again.'
It nearly did happen again, though, against a gritty Perkiomen Valley squad that had the look of a team of destiny.
Much like the Vikings' boys basketball squad last winter, which rallied from a 2-6 start to win the PAC-10 title, coach Bob McCabe's charges bounced back from a 1-2-1 start and headed into the final on an 10-game league unbeaten streak.
Perkiomen Valley forward Scott Neal had several strong runs throughout the contest, but could never put one in the back of the net. Neal appeared headed for a breakaway late in regulation before Spring-Ford back Zach Collier came up with a key defensive stop.
"I thought it kind of went in spurts,' McCabe said. "They had a good part of the play, then we would get a good part of the play. They had some nice chances, and we had a few chances in the overtime periods — shots we just didn't finish on. In the end, you have to score to win, and we didn't score.'
Neither did the Rams, resulting in the penalty-kick phase.
Neal hit the left crossbar on PV's opening attempt, before the Vikings eventually got successful PKs from Chase Koffel, Ryan Szabo and Alex Dove.
Spring-Ford, meanwhile, connected on all four attempts, and Swartz went to his left to stop Genuardi and bring an end to the proceedings.
"I knew I just needed one (save),' Swartz said. "I knew my boys would put them all in. I just had to get one. When I saw who it was (Genuardi), I just thought, ' I have to stop this one.' I knew I had it right when he kicked it.'
Spring-Ford ended up with a 10-8 shot advantage. Swartz made seven saves while PV keeper Corey Jackson made nine saves.
"Not a way you want to end a championship game, because both teams fought so hard,' Landis said. "You've got to give credit to PV, they were definitely throwing everything at us. They are a dangerous team that's well-coached. Fortunately for us, we were just able to weather the storm sometimes and finish it at the end.'
"Our kids left everything out there tonight,' McCabe said. "I was hoping it wasn't going to come down to PKs. You hate to win or lose that way. But there has to be a winner, and I guess that's how it shook out tonight.'
Both the Rams and Vikings will continue their seasons next week in the District 1-AAA Tournament, pairings for which will be released Sunday.
For the moment, though, the Rams' fraternity of final-year starters — including Gulati, Lyons, Bombard, Collier, Williams, Swartz, Bryan Gryscavage Joe Strempel and Luke Emerson — can enjoy a moment they will remember the rest of their lives.
"We'd been waiting for this day for a long time,' said Gulati. "We wanted it so bad. It was the only think we could think about today in school.'
"We were almost in the same exact situation this year as last year,' Lyons said. "But to be able to finish it off this year is the cherry on top. It feels great.'
Follow Darryl Grumling on Twitter at @MercSmokinD.