In 2020, different roles, same goals

Knights soccer squad set to defend state title as 2020 season gets underway

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Prasham Jobanputra

Josh Jones walks out from the locker room prior to the start of the 2019 4A soccer state title game. Jones is one of the North Penn Knights returning in 2020 in hopes of reclaiming the position atop the state of Pennsylvania.

TOWAMENCIN – As defending PIAA 4A State Champions, The North Penn Boys Soccer team has only one thing on their mind: repeat.

Backing an astonishing 25-1 campaign, a fourth straight conference title, and a State Championship win in Hershey, it may seem like the Knights have nothing left to prove. However, fourth year starter and Louisville commit Josh Jones would say otherwise.

 “Everybody on the team feels like we have a chance to repeat, and that’s the bar and the standard we’re going to hold ourselves too,” Jones said. 

One thing that will be different from last year, is who’s in charge of the head coaching position. 21 year coach Paul Duddy stepped down and switched roles with assistant coach Chris Depeppe following the State Championship win. Going into his 10th year with the Knights, the players are already familiar with Depeppe and his coaching style, making the transition seamless. 

“He has run our training sessions in previous years, and he has obviously been very involved with the team. We feel extremely comfortable with Coach Depeppe, and It’s almost as if nothing has been changed,” Jones said.

The Knights will bring back only 5 returning starters from last year’s championship squad in the hopes of emulating last year’s success. (Josh Jones, Sawyer Meade, Roman Ilovski, Hunter Stites, Ryan Mindick) 

As returning players, it is very important to set the tone, lead by example, and try and set the bar for the team for years to come”

— Josh Jones, Senior

“As returning players, it is very important to set the tone, lead by example, and try and set the bar for the team for years to come. With many of the new guys being on the team last year during our championship run, they already have a good idea of what it’s like being on the team, and I feel like that will help us going forward,” Jones added 

It might seem a little strange watching the Knights without seeing some familiar faces out there on the field for the first time in four years. Especially All American & 2019 PA State Player of the year, Carter Houlihan.

 “It’s definitely a little weird not being back on the field with the guys this season. I have such great memories being a part of North Penn Soccer, so it’s upsetting I won’t be able to make any more. I still try to make it to some of the practices and plan on going to the games when I’m available,” said Houlihan, whose freshman season at Lafayette has been put on hold due to Covid-19.

When asked if he thinks the Knights have a chance to repeat, without hesitating he said, “I do think they have what it takes. We had a solid foundation last year, a lot of young guys. We’re gonna have great senior leaders this year, and a couple new addictions will surely help the squad. I have high expectations for the boys.”

Houlihan racked up a whopping 30 goals last season, and with 63 of their 87 goals (72%) coming from players that are no longer rostered, goal scoring is definitely a question that is going to have to be answered. 

One of the possible solutions to that problem could be second year player, Dominik Gedek. After playing his Sophomore year, Gedek stepped away from high school soccer the following season to join his academy team. However due to US Soccer Academy regulations, Dom is eligible to suit up for the boys again this season, and he looks to make an immediate impact.

“I am really excited to get back on the field with the boys. The good thing about high school soccer is that you’re playing with your friends on a daily basis. The environment on the team is really hopeful and we’re all extremely motivated to go back-to-back,” said Gedek.

The team will also rely on second year starting goalkeeper, Sawyer Meede. The brick wall notched an impressive 11 shutouts in his first year with the Knights, and looks to do more of the same this season. Nonetheless, he is not totally content with his performance last season and is always looking for more ways to improve his game. 

“I’m looking to improve on controlling the ball at my feet. Last year I made a couple mistakes that could’ve led to goals because of my touch, and I’m working to limit that. I expect that this year I’ll be able to play out of the back more confidently,” the senior said.

The Boys kick off their 2020 season Tuesday, September 22nd at 3:30 on the turf in what should be a thrilling 2019 PIAA 4A State Championship rematch, vs Central Bucks West.