The sweet taste of a State Title


Prasham Jobanputra

The moment the Knights knew they had won a state title as Carter Houlihan scores his second goal.

HERSHEY- It had been said time and time again, the Knights boys’ soccer teams have had very successful seasons, but just couldn’t get the job done.  But on Friday, November 15th, they got that job done and the hero of the game was the man who had seen it all.

The #1 seeded North Penn Knights (25-1) took down the 23rd seeded Central Bucks West Bucks (14-8-5) 2-0 to hold up the PIAA 4A State trophy, the first state title in North Penn soccer history.

Prasham Jobanputra
The Knights hold up the state trophy.

“Our group of seniors, they’ve suffered some tough losses three years in a row and from day one we were determined to be here tonight and come here and win tonight but that’s always easier said than done,” Head Coach Paul Duddy said.

The Knights and Bucks had faced off twice already, with North Penn winning both games, so they both  knew what the other team was about.  The staple of CB West’s team, their defense, held up well for most of the game, with their goalie, Ryan Van Pelt, coming through with some clutch and incredible saves.  CB West had their chances, none better than in the 50th minute, where a shot got past Sawyer Meade but Roman Ilovski cleared it for an incredible save.

Van Pelt continued to spoil the Knights chances until they finally broke through.  In the 64th minute, Carter Houlihan made an incredible shot from far out, as he rolled the ball into the right bottom corner of the net to give the Knights a 1-0 lead.  A 1-0 lead is never safe however, and with a minute and 35 seconds left in the game, Houlihan got the Knights some insurance with another goal.

“It’s crazy right now.  CB West is a great team.  We knew the longer the score was zero-zero, the more chance they would have had to win so I kinda had to step up myself and try and get a goal and push for the goal.  Everyone did great on this team, everyone stepped up when needed.  Jamie [Stewart] was unfortunately not able to play this game.  At first we were a little worried cause he’s one of the best players on the team and one of the best players in the state, but everyone was able to step up and handle it,” Houlihan said.

The job was done, it was just a matter of the clock running out.  When it did though, the student section with over 200 fans in attendance erupted and the celebration began.  The night belonged to Houlihan, who ran over to the fence between the field and fans, and leaped to give his parents a hug as tears of joy came down his face.

Prasham Jobanputra
Houlihan hugs and shares his tears of joy with his parents.

“It was emotional.  My parents have been there throughout everything.  They support me, they drive me to all of the practices.  They’re just my rock and support so being able to pay it back to my parents and hug them after the game is great,” Houlihan said.

And for Coach Duddy, he finally got that long-awaited state title.

“It means the world to me [and] it means a lot to them.  They’re excited, I’m excited and they’re just a great group of young men,” Coach Duddy said.

A remarkable season for the Knights.  Only one loss in the books along with a league championship, district championship, and of course the most important, state championship.  It truly was a night and season to remember for the best North Penn soccer team in school history.