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North Penn girls water polo tops Cumberland Valley for 4th straight state crown

North Penn's Haley Muth takes a shot on goal against Governor Mifflin during the Pennsylvania State High School Girls Water Polo Championship on Saturday, Nov. 4, 2017. (Bob Raines/Digital First Media)

TOWAMENCIN >> North Penn didn’t only add to its proud history on Saturday night.

These Knights made some of their own.

Becoming the first North Penn team ever to win four straight state titles, the Knights jumped out to a 5-0 lead early and dominated late to pull away to an 11-5 State Final victory over rival Cumberland Valley at packed and raucous Rick Carroll Natatorium.

Said coach Jason Grubb: “I’ve never had a team this balanced. We can do a lot of different things. We can move people in and out, we have people on the inside, outside, so versatile that it makes it fun, really fun to coach.”

Contributions came from all over the pool.

Claudia Thamm’s second-half hat trick sent NP on its way, senior goalie Rosalinda Rivera moved swiftly from post to post and senior Maddie Koerper helped propel an offense that closed out on a 6-1 tear.

North Penn’s Claudia Thamm gets ready to take a shot on goal against Governor Mifflin during the Pennsylvania State High School Girls Water Polo Championship on Saturday, Nov. 4, 2017. (Bob Raines/Digital First Media)

All three earned First-Team All-State honors, along with senior Maeve Wydan. The eye of the storm for North Penn, Wydan earned Co-Ms. Water Polo honors for the state of Pennsylvania, leading the Knights to their fourth straight trophy.

“It’s the greatest feeling ever. We played great as a team and we wanted to bring this home,” she said. “We’ve been playing together for a very long time and play year round. We all just connect. We’re all close friends.

“We knew Cumberland Valley is a tough team. We had to keep it going. There was no stopping.”

Wydan was key in getting North Penn the early jump. With everything in blue on their feet cheering, the Knights led 2-0 after the first quarter and extended to a 5-0 advantage a couple minutes into the second.

“Getting that (strong start) brought the blood pressure down a little bit,” Grubb said with a smile. “But CV always plays really well in the final. They always play a different game at states.”

True to form, the Eagles made a run. Powered by Co-Ms. Water Polo selection Kayla Barone, Cumberland Valley came winging back and cut the margin all the way down to 5-4 early in the third quarter.

North Penn’s Kaelan Daly sprints to control the ball against Governor Mifflin at the Pennsylvania State High School Girls Water Polo Championship on Saturday, Nov. 4, 2017. (Bob Raines/Digital First Media)

But from there, it was all North Penn.

“They came out in the second half and were ready to go,” Grubb said. “It’s a testament to the kids that we have and they buy in, practice hard, they work hard, work year-round.

“Pretty much everybody we have here is a year-round athlete, and that’s what it takes to win stuff like this and stay where we’re at.”

The dynasty continues

Now the Knights just need one for the other thumb.

With its victory Saturday night, that makes it nine titles in the last 12 years. The Knights took the crown in 2006, won back-to-back in 2008 and 2009, and again won two straight in 2011 and 2012.

After falling in the 2013 state final to Cumberland Valley, the Knights won a historic four straight state crowns, punctuated by Saturday night’s victory over the rival Eagles.

North Penn’s Haley Muth guards Governor Mifflin’s Emilie Gerhard during the Pennsylvania State High School Girls Water Polo Championship on Saturday, Nov. 4, 2017. (Bob Raines/Digital First Media)

Awards abound

Said Wydan of winning Co-Ms. Water Polo: “I had the support of my team thoughout the entire season and it’s because of them.”

Grubb, chosen as Coach of the Year, led not one but two teams to the state title this fall, following up the boys championship effort a week ago.

“It doesn’t happen often. Two great teams this year, worked really hard. A lot of talent. The boys and girls, they both played really awesome in the final game,” Grubb said.

On winning Coach of the Year, Grubb said: “It’s a good honor. There are a lot of good coaches here and to be chosen is nice.”

Governor Mifflin’s Malia Naugle gets ready to ambush North Penn’s Claudia Thamm during the Pennsylvania State High School Girls Water Polo Championship on Saturday, Nov. 4, 2017. (Bob Raines/Digital First Media)

Finishing strong

It was a big night for Souderton’s K.K. Hershey, who sang a tremendous rendition of the National Anthem before the final and was recognized as First-Team All-State later in the evening.

Hershey led the Indians to fifth place with a victory over Villa Maria.

Wilson topped Governor Mifflin for third place and in the seventh-place game, North Allegheny defeated Upper Dublin 10-7, with the Cardinals making quite a run this year in reaching the state tournament.

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