TOWAMENCIN >> Mike Kohler saw a crease, and that’s all he needed.
“I just saw a little seam and tried to get through it as quick as I could,” the North Penn senior said of his second goal Thursday night, where he shed three defenders and was able to knock a shot past Kennett keeper Moises Almanza. “The ball just bounced my way and I was able to get a touch on it and get it around the keeper.”
Kohler’s pair of goals and a defensive effort led by Noah Kwortnik powered fifth-seeded North Penn to a rainy 2-0 victory over No. 21 Kennett in a District 1-AAAA second round playoff game at NP.
The win advances the Knights to a Saturday quarterfinal showdown at No. 4 Pennsbury, which defeated No. 13 Central Bucks West 7-2 Thursday.
“We definitely experienced hardships this season and it feels good to get a win, get off on the right foot,” Kohler said of the Knights, who had a first-round bye and began districts with a solid performance on Thursday. “The first goal is always huge. We can play well with a lead so once we get the first goal we’re in gear and we’re ready to go.”
Kohler’s first goal came just seven minutes into the contest, giving the Knights an early edge over the Blue Demons. After Kohler doubled the lead to 2-0 midway through the first half, North Penn kept on producing scoring chances the rest of the way while containing Kennett’s speed on the outside.
“They’re a good team,” Knights coach Paul Duddy said of the Blue Demons, a team on the rise that will graduate just three seniors. “They had great team speed and a couple outside players that were very quick. (Dan Kunzij and Josh Ramagano) were very quick. Usually we match up speed-wise with anybody but they gave us some problems.”
Enter Kwortnik, the backbone of the defense.
“Noah in the back — as always, he wins 80 percent of the balls in the air and he is just as steady as it goes,” Duddy said.
Bobby Dean got the shutout in goal for the Knights, who improved to 16-3-0 on the season. They’ll take on the Falcons Saturday with a chance to lock up a spot in states.
It was a tremendous run for Kennett (10-7-2), which earned an upset win over Spring-Ford in the first round and played an impressive 80 minutes of soccer in Round Two.
“I was proud of the kids. They played with a lot of heart,” Kennett coach Mike Barr said of his team. “North Penn got on top of us right away and we had a few injuries going in. The season had some ups and downs but we ended on a positive note, getting to districts and winning the Ches-Mont (League).
“We’ll learn and grow from what happened tonight and we should have a good team next year.”
Kennett also got some outstanding saves from Almanza throughout the night, making the two goals by Kohler — especially the second one — that much more impressive.
“He’s pretty incredible,” Duddy said of the senior. “He’s a special player.”
Top Photo: North Penn’s Mike Kohler celebrates scoring against Kennett during their District 1-AAAA second round game on Thursday, Oct. 27, 2016. (Bob Raines/Digital First Media)