"This was a big win. It was just our fifth playoff win in school history," Leonard said. "And a big part of it is being able to communicate on defense. When we were down this year we weren't communicating. It comes down to playing as a team, always knowing where everyone is, being organized. And we were able to do all of those things today."
Entering the postseason, the Indians' season broke down like this: They lost their first three games, won their next nine and lost their final four.
During the win streak, the Indians didn't allow more than seven goals in a game and more than four in the final five games of that stretch.
"Our goalie and our defense have dictated a lot this year," said Lenape coach Bill Sutphin. "Eric has been a great leader for us on defense. We have a young offense, and our defense has really allowed them to grow throughout this season. When our defense plays well, we play well. So it was nice to see that communication and see them getting closer to playing back up to their full potential today."
The Indians move on to a second-round matchup on Tuesday against Olympic Conference American Division rival Eastern, with which the Indians split two meetings this year.
And one more regular-season matchup still remains for Lenape, against Cherry Hill East - another team with which it split two-regular season matchups - on Monday.
"It would be really special for us to win both games," said Reed Hoffman, who paced the Indians with three goals against Absegami. "It would be the second time in our history that we won our division and our first time winning two playoff games.
"We're coming off some tough losses, but we're getting things going again, and we're just going to go from here."
For Absegami, the loss ends a historically positive season. In its fourth year as a program, the Braves shattered their previous record for wins in a season.
"The most wins we ever has was seven, and that was last year," head coach Scott Winneberger said. "Right now we are 13-5.
"Our kids worked hard all year round. They've developed their talent. They played in three leagues in the winter, and that made a huge difference. It showed this season."
Absegami 0 1 1 1 – 3
Lenape 2 2 5 4 – 13
Goals: A–Chris Henchy 2, Dustin Gunther; L–Reed Hoffman 3, Andrew Streilein 3, Justin Holl 2, Connor Wolfe 2, Tom Pearsall, James O'Donnell, Evan Schwartz.
Saves: A–Brandon Ruggles 7; L–Eric Leonard 5.
Contact Chris Melchiorre