Souderton boys, North Penn girls win in the pool

FRANCONIA >> The thud sounded through a packed Souderton Area Natatorium Tuesday night, signifying one final save, one final stop by Big Red.

That thud — made by keeper Spencer Smith in stifling one last shot by North Penn with seconds to go — was soon replaced by thunderous cheers, as Souderton Area held on for a thrilling 9-8 victory over the Knights, completing a regular-season sweep of their rival.

“First time in seven years we’re conference champions,” Big Red’s Ryan Witoslawski said. “It feels great.”
Souderton’s win followed up an impressive performance by the North Penn girls, who remained unbeaten with a 10-4 victory over Big Red.

Witoslawski and junior Christian Musterait were the snipers for Souderton, firing accurately all the way through to push Big Red in front for good in the second quarter.

Mark C Psoras--The Reporter North Penn's Erin O'Neill ,18, lines up a shot past Souderton defender Emily Czerwonka ,19.
North Penn’s Erin O’Neill (18) lines up a shot past Souderton defender Emily Czerwonka (19) during their game on Tuesday, Oct. 20, 2015. (Mark C Psoras/The Reporter)

“We were like the dynamic duo out there,” Witoslawski said with a smile.

Witoslawski, a senior, connected for five goals on Senior Night and Musterait had three, each helping to lead Big Red to a 4-2 lead at the half. A goal by each enabled Souderton to open up a 6-2 advantage in the third, and the Indians would again lead by four early in the fourth, but North Penn (15-4) came back.

“We had to keep our heads in the game,” Witoslawski said. “We had to refocus, get ourselves together at the end.”

Back-to-back scores by the Knights’ A.J. Patterson and Nico Kountroubis brought NP within 8-6, but then a big defensive block by Musterait, followed by a goal at the other end by Souderton’s Brendon Loux, made the score 9-6 with about three minutes to go.

Again, the Knights rallied, and tallies by Derek Friday and Matt Franco tightened the margin to 9-8, suggesting the two teams might be headed to overtime once again.

Mark C Psoras--The Reporter Souderton's Ryan Witoslawski ,12, fires a shot past North Penn defenders during their contest.
Souderton’s Ryan Witoslawski (12) fires a shot past North Penn defenders during their game on Tuesday, Oct. 20, 2015. (Mark C Psoras/The Reporter)

But Big Red’s defense held, and Smith came up with the final save.

“I knew we were gonna get the stop,” Souderton assistant coach Missy Doll said. “I trust our man-down defense so well. Fantastic.

“The focus of the game was defense, no matter what. You could tell how patient we were on offense and how focused we were to make sure our defense was the priority.”

Earlier in the evening, the North Penn girls improved to a perfect 19-0, led by a solid defensive effort and a big offensive surge in the second quarter.

“It’s always a tough first half for us against Souderton — they always come out way ready to play us,” said Maidens senior Shannon Quinn, who had two goals and a pair of assists. “Especially it being their Senior Night, they were so fired up. But then we really took off in the second quarter.

“Hopefully we’ll (continue the win streak) through our tournament this weekend — that’s the plan.”

Leah Brown, another senior, had three goals for the defending state champs.

“They’re always a tough team,” Maidens coach Katie Grunmeier said of Souderton. “We were able to drive, get open, had lots of inside water and we were able to get a lot of kickouts, which presented scoring opportunities for us.
“We have four super-talented seniors who have been leading our team offensively and defensively,” Grunmeier said of Quinn and Brown, along with Aimee Baur and Erin O’Neill. “I really can’t ask for anything better from them.”

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