The SOL lost its final two teams – North Penn and CR North - in the quarterfinals of the PIAA Class 4A Tournament. Photos of the North Penn/Henderson game provide courtesy of Keith Clemens Photography, and the CR North/Elizabethtown photo provided courtesy of John Gleeson. Check back for a gallery of action photos of both games...CLICK HERE.
#1-1 WEST CHESTER HENDERSON 5, #1-3 NORTH PENN 1
The Knights knew they faced a daunting task when they took on a West Chester Henderson squad that is ranked 11th in USA Today’s Super 25. They also knew they needed some breaks to go their way.
The exact opposite happened.
After the Knights had the better of play in the opening 10 minutes, the Warriors – on their first trip inside the Knights’ defensive third – were awarded a penalty kick.
Princeton-bound Frank DeRosa buried the kick, giving the District One 4A champions a 1-0 lead at 29:29 mark of the first half.
“I don’t really remember the sequence too much,” DeRosa said. “All I remember is Aiden (McFadden) had the ball, he flicked it over the defender, and then the defender kind of tackled him to the ground.
“From where I was standing, it definitely looked like a penalty, but other people had different opinions. I felt like it settled us down a little bit.”
There was no mistaking the impact the penalty kick had on the game.
“That changes the game,” coach Paul Duddy said. “That’s disappointing. That certainly affected the game.”
“It gave them momentum,” senior Nate Baxter added. “It kind of shifted the momentum off of us to them, and I guess we didn’t respond well.”
The goal gave an immediate boost to the Warriors, who went on top 2-0 at the 17:42 mark when DeRosa headed a McFadden pass into the net. The Knights responded with some serious pressure of their own.
Midway through the half, Mike Kohler’s direct kick was turned away by a diving Brady McSwain, and three minutes later, the Warriors’ sophomore goalie swatted a shot by Luke McMahon out of harm’s way.
“It’s always hard to come back,” Kohler said. “Every goal obviously adds difficulty to the comeback. It was an uphill climb for us, but I was proud of my team.”
Another Kohler shot was turned away by McSwain, and DeRosa – on a rare Warrior offensive opportunity – scored his third goal of the game with 8:19 remaining in the first half to go into the intermission with a 3-0 lead.
“We came out very flat, very lackadaisical, and I think we had four chances total in the first half and we scored on three of them,” DeRosa said. “To score three in the first half against a good team is a huge accomplishment.”
“They were just clinical - it was clinical finishing,” Duddy said. “(At halftime), we told them there was 40 minutes left and we literally could score three goals in 40 minutes – we have this year.”
The Knights’ chances of a comeback took a major hit when McFadden scored a controversial goal less than two minutes into the second half after an apparent whistle to blow the play dead. Duddy received a puzzling explanation.
“They said there was no whistle,” the Knights’ veteran coach said. “That’s not easy to explain.”
Another textbook goal 10 minutes into the half – this time a Tom King header with a Richie Schlentz assist – gave the Warriors a 5-0 lead. Nate Baxter (Nick Terchek assist) broke up the Warriors’ shutout bid with a goal midway through the second half for the 5-1 final.
“Our spirit is – shake it off and continue playing, and I think that’s what we tried to do the whole game,” senior Noah Kwortnik said. “You can’t worry about the refs, you just have to play your own game. I think we did a good job after that penalty kick just getting our form back.”
There was no mistaking the disappointment when it was over.
“It’s heartbreaking,” said Kohler, going on to acknowledge it had been a memorable season. “I think we had an overall great season. I’m really proud of everyone.
“This is the farthest we’ve come in such a long time. We definitely had a great year. We just need to take a step back and look at the whole season.”
Duddy had a message to his players after the game.
“I’m proud of them,” the Knights’ coach said. “Make sure the young guys enjoy it and understand how good these teams are once we get this deep into the playoffs.
“They were better today, there’s no doubt about it. That’s what the scoreboard says. I’m not sure that scores tells the exact way the game went.”
The SOL Continental Conference champion Knights (10-2 SOL) closed out a successful season with an 18-5 record.
North Penn 0-1 1
Henderson 3-2 5
#3-2 ELIZABETHTOWN 1, #1-4 COUNCIL ROCK NORTH 1 (4-3 PKs)
The Indians lost a heartbreaker in penalty kicks after battling Elizabethtown to a 1-1 tie at the end of regulation and two overtime periods.
Rock North got on the scoreboard when Nick Guarna scored in the 34th minute, a goal that sent the Indians into halftime with a 1-0 lead. Elizabethtown got that goal back midway through the second half. That 1-1 tie stood the rest of the way, setting the stage for penalty kicks and the disappointing finish.
Council Rock North (10-2 SOL) closed out its memorable season with an SOL National Conference title and a 17-5-2 record.
Council Rock North 1-0-0-0 1
Elizabethtown 0-1-0-0 1