Stewart punches Knight’s ticket to state semis in OT win over Conestoga

Knight's playoff run and 20 game win streak stay alive with another guaranteed game left to play for the boys of North Penn soccer

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Stewart punches Knight’s ticket to state semis in OT win over Conestoga

Conestoga fends of a Knight's attack, clearing one of the four corner attempts for North Penn on the afternoon

Conestoga fends of a Knight's attack, clearing one of the four corner attempts for North Penn on the afternoon

Erik Jesberger

Conestoga fends of a Knight's attack, clearing one of the four corner attempts for North Penn on the afternoon

Erik Jesberger

Erik Jesberger

Conestoga fends of a Knight's attack, clearing one of the four corner attempts for North Penn on the afternoon

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ROYERSFORD- Expressing the ups and downs of a down to the wire OT thriller may leave many athletes speechless, but not to North Penn senior Ryan Stewart, who had the overtime game winning goal to propel the Knights over Conestoga in the State quarterfinal. Words could not express enough what the emotion was like when Stewart tacked on one more guaranteed game for the boys of  North Penn soccer.

“When the ball went into the back of the net}, I just wanted to get to my teammates, get to everyone out here who supports us because it wasn’t just me tonight it was everybody and we gave it our all, kept fighting till the end,” Stewart said. 

In a November Saturday afternoon square off, the North Penn Knights (23-1) topped the Conestoga Pioneers (18-5-3)by a final score of 2-1 in a contest that would hold the intensity and flare a postseason game is supposed to hold, and the action delivered by both team’s on the turf did not disappoint.

“Credit to the boys, they work hard and stick together and tonight we moved them around, and for the Stewart twins it paid off. {Conestoga is} good and could counter us with great chances in our end, but I thought overall we had more chances. We have a lot of guys that can step up and it was Ryan [Stewart] tonight that stepped up,” stated the Knight’s Head Coach, Paul Duddy.

A second half shoot out would commence following the first half’s back of the net connections from both teams. North Penn’s captain, Carter Houlihan, would give the Knight’s an early appearance on the scoreboard after beating the diving save attempt of Conestoga’s goalkeeper, Andrew Niggeman. The Pioneers would tie things up shortly after that, as Nate Xu’s leaping chip shot off of Elijah Browns cross net feed would be the equalizer, and our last goal of regulation time. The incredible efforts of individuals on the defensive ends for both teams kept the game tied,

 The prominent one for the boys in blue, Jack Durkin of North Penn.

“Jack was playing amazing and winning every ball. He was always working hard and coming up big in front of me tonight. Jamie Stewart was also playing awesome even with a hurt ankle. Was great to see him play through that after hurting a lot earlier in the game. Great moments for them,” said Knight’s goalkeeper, Sawyer Meade.

A lockdown of both respective nets would be held throughout the full 45 minutes of the second half, where efforts from each goal keeper was key. Conestoga’s goalie, Cael Willner, pulled off an incredible block in front of Josh Jones’ missile for the Knights to deflect away an impending shot on the Pioneer’s net. North Penn’s Jack Durkin was able to sniff out and erase an opportunity for Conestoga’s Elijah Brown who put up a center for a fellow Pioneer in the Knight’s wheelhouse, would highlight the efforts of both teams playing with the reality on their minds, that it may be their last.

Both teams would exchange a short sharing of dishes into their respective offensive zones, back and forth without an answer to the back of the net. Until a tic-tac-toe connection of Houlihan to Jones, chipped along to Stewart, would unravel as the finisher to an OT thriller.

“Having that risk, especially in overtime knowing our season could end tonight, it just brings us so much closer together and get us set to get at the next team just like every other team giving it our best, living to fight another day,” concluded Ryan Stewart.

20 straight wins for our team is great, but if the ball bounces a different way tonight, it could have been their win, could have been them so tonight, all that mattered was getting that goal and I guess I can start breathing a little bit easier”

— Paul Duddy - NP Head Soccer Coach

“20 straight wins for our team is great, but if the ball bounces a different way tonight, it could have been their win, could have been them so tonight, all that mattered was getting that goal and I guess I can start breathing a little bit easier,” stated coach Duddy.

The Knights will now prepare for their semi-final match up up next on their calendar, a date with La Salle, Tuesday evening, 7pm at CB South High School. The winner advances to Hershey to play for a state title. 

“Every team you see now is great and we think we can hold our own against anybody and that’s what we will try and do. Well get prepared Monday and let it rip,” concluded coach Duddy.

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