Knights conquered by Warriors in second round

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SPRINGFORD- The North Penn Knights (District 1, #3) faced the West Chester Henderson Warriors (District 1, #1) in the second round of playoffs in the PIAA 4A Championships. In a hard fought battle, much more intense than the score assumes, the Warriors edged the Knights 5-1 and will be moving on to the third round of playoffs.

The game started out fairly slow as each team tried to figure out one another. The big momentum change happened early when the officials called a questionable penalty on North Penn, and Henderson earned a penalty kick. Frank DeRosa kicked the ball for Henderson’s first shot on senior goalkeeper Bobby Dean, and the Warriors were ahead 1-0 (29:29).

“You can’t blame a 5-1 game on the referees, but that call definitely affected the game early,” said Head Coach Paul Duddy.

The next time the DeRosa took a shot, he scored, extending Henderson’s early lead 2-0 (17:42).

North Penn seniors Mike Kohler and Nick Tercheck held down the center for the Knights as they tried to move the ball down the field, often finding senior Nate Baxter or sophomore Luke McMahon. However, the Knights were never able to capitalize on their many opportunities before the Warriors capitalized on their few.

DeRosa scored again after heading the ball into the goal, putting them ahead 3-0 at the half and earning a personal hat-trick (8:19).

“To score three [goals] in the first half against a good team is a huge accomplishment for a team, let alone for me who did it,” said DeRosa.

“They [Henderson] had four opportunities on us, and they scored three goals. It is not necessarily our keeper’s fault. They just had clinical finishing [on their shots],” said Duddy.

Coming out of the half, North Penn’s chemistry was the best it had been all game. Senior Kevin Seipt and freshman Carter Houlihan were key players who increased the energy and possession for the Knights.

On Henderson’s next offensive drive, an official’s whistle, heard by North Penn and many others, prompted the team to stop play as Henderson’s Aiden McFadden shot and scored (32:11).

“The officials said there was no whistle before the goal,” said Duddy, who heard the whistle. “That’s a hard one to explain”.

Knowing they could not control the uncontrollable, North Penn kept their heads up and did not let the controversial calls change their mental game.

“Our spirit is to just shake it off and continue playing our game,” said senior Noah Kwortnik.

North Penn picked up their game, but it was too late before Warrior Tom King dribbled in and scored, putting Henderson ahead 5-0 (30:01).

Just when it seemed as if the Knights couldn’t get a break, a long kick from Tercheck found Baxter, who tapped it in for North Penn’s first goal (21:57).

For the remainder of the game, North Penn was in a race against time to score, but the Warriors’ early and large lead ended up winning them the game.

It’s always hard to come back from behind, and every goal adds difficulty to the comeback. It was an uphill climb for us, but I’m proud of my team”

— Mike Kohler

“It’s always hard to come back from behind, and every goal adds difficulty to the comeback. It was an uphill climb for us, but I’m proud of my team,” said Kohler.

After over a decade of not being in the State Tournament, the North Penn Knights finished in the second round of playoffs. Reflecting on their successful season, the upperclassmen are proud and hope the winning program will continue.

“This team is definitely a kick-start for years to come. We have a lot of good players coming up, so we hope we set the bar high,” said Baxter.

“We won our conference, we got far into Districts, and we qualified for the state tournament, where we won a game, which we haven’t done [in a long time],” said Kwortnik. “I think we really showed our younger kids how to participate in these types of contests; that is really important for the future of our program.”