ROYERSFORD — The Spring-Ford soccer programs — boys and girls — had one Pioneer Athletic Conference championship between them before Tuesday.
One night. Two titles. Three cheers.
It was a night for celebration for Ram Nation — as they call themselves — Tuesday night, on their home turf no less, as the Spring-Ford boys went to penalty kicks and defeated neighboring rival Perkiomen Valley, 0-0 (4-3 PKs) a few hours before the upstart girls team finished off its rise to prominence with a 2-1 victory over two-time defending champion Boyertown.
The PAC-10 boys title seems to be traditionally won by the team with the strongest group of seniors. It happened again in 2013. Featuring eight senior starters — forward David Gulati, midfielders Nick Bombard, Jerry Williams, Brian Gryscavage, defenders Kole Lyons, Luke Emerson, Joe Stremple and goalkeeper Pat Swartz — the axiom proved true yet again.
Not only were the Rams attempting to build on the program's 2010 title, they were also trying to exorcise the demons of losing last year's final 2-1 in overtime to Boyertown.
"(It's about) having a great group of guys around you and knowing that other person is going to work just as hard as you and having a team that you're proud to be on,' Williams said.
Gutting through 110 scoreless minutes is enough to dent a team's belief when it's unable to find a breakthrough. So penalty kicks would settle it. Not a single Ram missed.
"It's all about your chemistry and your mentality; how you come into a game is how you're going to come out of it,' said Bombard, who along with Williams, Gulati and junior forward Dan DiLiberto converted their attempts.
Bombard was especially ready to handle the situation that would allow Spring-Ford to double its PAC-10 title total.
"I was shooting PKs an hour before the game. I just went out and all the guys were like, ' You're crazy.' But the nerves were killing me all day and I just decided to hit some PKs. Me and Pat go out every Sunday and work on PKs. He gets better, I get better,' Bombard said.
"I was basically saying, ' Worse comes to worst and it goes to PKs, I'm going to be ready for it.''
Determined head coach Doug Landis has long been ready for another PAC-10 crown. This year he had the group to make that happen.
It also doesn't hurt to have players with a mentality to achieve something more than individual glory.
"It's about having a special experience. It's not about you,' Williams said "It's about the program - what mark you are going to leave. People are going to forget about you as the years go on, but it's all about leaving a mark on the program.'
Whereas the boys team had been hovering around the PAC-10 title conversation over the last number of years, the Spring-Ford girls program hadn't even been speaking the same language as the PAC-10 best.
"Starting as freshmen, it is so crazy to think we could even be in the PAC-10 final,' said senior forward Aley Kate McKinley. "Looking from the outside (of the PAC-10 Final Four) it was like, ' They must be the best teams ever. We could never get there.' My sophomore year we had a losing record. It's crazy to think we are here and just won the PAC-10 championship. The first time ever Spring-Ford girls soccer won the PAC-10 championship.'
This season was the Rams' first Final Four even. Now they've unseated the two-time champions.
The Rams program has consistently improved under coach Sheldon Chamberlain, whose resume includes being the Villanova women's soccer coach as well as many successful high school programs.
Spring-Ford features one of the finest attacking groups the PAC-10 has ever seen with McKinley, fellow senior Megan Giannopoulos, who scored a goal and had an assist in the final, and sophomore Gabrielle Vagnozzi. Complemented by fellow seniors Sammy Stipa, Sarah Hancock, Julie Pennington, Kaitlyn Dougherty, Hope Davis and sophomores Brianna Cirino, Taylor Newhart and Laura Suero, the Rams had what it took to overcome a loss and a draw with the Bears during the regular season.
A shift in mentality did the trick too.
"In previous years it was, ' Let's have fun and just play soccer.' This year we are here to win. Obviously we have fun but we have the desire to keep getting better and better,' McKinley said. "This is our most successful year and I couldn't be happier about how well we're doing, how we are playing together.'
That seems to be the thing at Spring-Ford this season — doing it together.
Follow Austin Hertzog on Twitter @AustinHertzog