The Tribe's Morgan Rynn, center, battles for the ball with Boyertown's Alicia Stratten and goalie Katie Buckwalter during play in Monday night's PAC-10 semi-final playoff at Upper Perk.
A one-goal loss to the Phoenixville Phantoms in the season finale last week doomed the Upper Perk girls lacrosse team to a PAC-10 semi-final playoff match-up with Boyertown.
The Bears (12-0, 15-3) are the beasts of the league and entered the playoffs with 151 consecutive wins against PAC-10 opponents and 10 straight league championships.
It was no surprise then when the Bears cruised to an 18-7 win over the Indians in Tribe Stadium on Monday night, setting up a championship encounter with the Phantoms, who upset Springford 12-11 in double overtime.
What was a surprise was how the young Upper Perk (6-7, 8-11) squad made a game of it for most of the first half, trailing only 6-4 with 8:10 left before intermission.
One of Upper Perk's youngsters, freshman Kenzie Gebert, actually scored the game's first goal after just 1:22 had been played.
But one of Boyertown's 10 senior starters, Haley Wentzel, tallied two goals in 26 seconds shortly thereafter to give the Bears the lead for good.
Wentzel would finish with six goals in the contest.
Rachael Shaw followed Wentzel's second goal with a score of her own 47 seconds later, and the rout appeared to be on.
Not so fast.
As she has done all season, the Tribe's Kayla Smith took matters into her own hands and kept her team in the game with two goals, sandwiched around a score by the Bears Alex O'Herrick to make the score 4-3 with 13:16 left in the half.
Boyertown coach Pam Wernersbach called time, and Upper Perk coach Sue Flack used the opportunity to send a message to her own team, telling them to look at the scoreboard.
"It was 4-3, and that right there [shows] that we can now play with them. We've got to break this mindset of 'Boyertown's so good.' We're going to start stepping it up.
"I said, 'Next year, remember this. We want to take it to them next year.'"
The Tribe had a chance to tie the game, but Maddie Fox was thwarted on a restart by Boyertown goalie Katie Buckwalter.
The Bears, who play with the speed and fluidity of a confident team, struck quickly again when Emma Morgan and Wentzel scored 24 seconds apart.
Smith brought the Tribe closer at 6-4 with her third goal of the game, but Boyertown turned it up several notches after that.
"They are a very fast team, and they look to just take it right in. They have beautiful passes and good shots, too," Flack said.
Within a six-minute span, the Bears used those skills to put them on an insurmountable road to the win.
First, Wentzel fed Hannah Jaskuta with a deft pass across the goal mouth for an easy score.
Jaskuta (five goals) scored again from in-close 13 seconds later and then fed Grace McFadyen to put the Bears ahead 9-4.
Wentzel fired a laser over goalie Ryan McComb's shoulder and scored on a restart with two seconds left in the half.
It was 11-4 at intermission.
By the time Gebhart tallied her second goal with 11:59 left in the game, the Bears had rung up seven unanswered scores.
Smith recorded the final goal of her storied career with 7:53 remaining, giving her 114. Fellow senior Maddie Fox got her final career goal 5 minutes later.
Flack was happy with the play of her co-captains, as she has been all year. "I thought Maddie and Kayla both played very, very well. They wanted the ball out there. They stepped it up."
Flack saw the game as a good experience builder for her young team, which dropped a 19-4 contest to the Bears during the regular season.
"I'm really pleased with their poise and their possession. Offensively, midfield transitions were really good. We didn't turn the ball over that much today. They were calm. They were under control.
"It's a big improvement from the first time we played them."