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North Penn’s future looks bright despite loss to Cumberland Valley in state final

TOWAMENCIN >> Saturday night’s 12-5 loss to Cumberland Valley in the State Final may have brought North Penn’s season to a close, but the contest may wind up being just a stop on the road to a championship for the Knights.

With a young nucleus that includes freshman Sean Faikish, chosen as the state’s Rookie of the Year, with coach Jason Grubb at the helm — Grubb earned Co-Coach of the Year honors along with CV’s Corey Pelow, and with leaders like First-Team All-Stater Derek Friday, the future looks pretty sturdy.

Bob Raines--Digital First Media North Penn's Andrew Dunigan passes under pressure from Cathedral Prep's Tony Squeglia Nov. 5, 2016.

North Penn’s Andrew Dunigan passes under pressure from Cathedral Prep’s Tony Squeglia during their state tournament contest on Saturday, Nov. 5, 2016. (Bob Raines/Digital First Media)

“These guys behind me — they’re my family. They’re not just my teammates,” Friday said after the state tournament wrapped up Saturday evening in front of a packed, raucous crowd at the Rick Carroll Natatorium. “It was great to play every single second in that game. It’s just another one for the books.”

Friday, a junior for the Knights, helped NP reach the state final on the strength of an 8-6 victory over North Allegheny on Friday and a 15-10 win over Cathedral Prep in the semifinals on Saturday. His play was so consistent that he earned First-Team All-State honors, adding a pair of goals in the state final against unbeaten Cumberland Valley.

Friday helped young NP get a little something going in the third quarter, as he and Matt Franco came up with back-to-back goals, bringing the North Penn fans to their feet.

“We felt pretty nice there,” Friday said.

To their credit, senior-loaded CV pulled away, led by Jacob Deckman’s five-goal effort. The Eagles, capturing their second straight crown, jumped out to a 7-0 lead but from there the Knights played them even, goal-for-goal, the rest of the way.

Junior Ryan Hartmann and senior Nico Kountroubis added scores for the Knights.

“They’re the best guys I’ve ever played with in my life,” Friday said of the team, which return the bulk of its roster next season. “It felt pretty nice, making it to the state final game. What more can you ask for, right? It was a great year. I couldn’t ask for anything else.”

It was a season in which the Knights racked up a 29-5 record and earned state runner-up honors for the third straight year. And there could be better things to come.

Said Friday of his all-state selection: “I’m proud of what I did and ready to come back next year and do it again.”

Top Photo:  North Penn’s Nico Kountroubis grabs for the ball during a state tournament game against Cathedral Prep on Saturday, Nov. 5, 2016. (Bob Raines/Digital First Media)

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