TOWAMENCIN >> According to JoJo Dalwadhi, he had the easy part.
Locked in a scoreless battle in overtime with visiting Perkiomen Valley, a headed ball from Josh Jones in the 18-yard box gave Dalwadhi a chance at an open goal from close range and the North Penn senior forward did not miss.
“I don’t think there was any stress in my finish to say, I think Josh Jones made it easy for me,” Dalwadhi said. “I had the easy job, I just had to tap it in so there wasn’t really stress.”
Dalwadhi knocked in the bouncing ball at the right post with 6:14 left in the first extra session, the lone tally on a cold Monday night sending the No. 6 seed Knights to the District 1-4A boys soccer quarterfinals with a 1-0 first-round win over the No. 11 Vikings.
“Well coming into overtime we just had a sense of urgency and kind of knew that goal was going to come,” Dalwadhi said. “So before going on coach just said make sure you’re at the right spot and when I saw the ball played into Josh Jones I just knew I had to make the back post run to just hopefully tap it in and that’s exactly what happened. So just happy it worked out for us.”
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With its sixth straight win, North Penn (10-2-0), the defending district and PIAA champ, advances to host SOL Colonial Division rival Central Bucks South Thursday after the No. 14 Titans upset No. 3 Unionville 3-0. The Knights beat CB South twice by scorelines of 1-0 in the regular season with their first meeting Oct. 1 going to overtime.
“We knew the whole game that if we stayed patient something was coming,” Jones said. “We just didn’t want to get too anxious, lock everything down in the back but we knew a goal was coming eventually so we just had to stay patient.”
Perk Valley, looking for its first district win since 2017, dodged a few chances from Jones in the first half – the Louisville commit hitting the left post on one. After the break the Vikings sent a few threatening balls into the box but could not put one in the back of the net and saw their season end at 6-6-1.
“Losing 1-0 in overtime hurts, no two ways around it,” Perkiomen Valley coach Zach Allen said. “But the effort, the way that they fought to the last minute here tonight I couldn’t be prouder of them.
North Penn regained its offensive footing towards the backend of regulation and in the second half’s final seconds Jones rose up to put a header on goal but the effort went directly to the keeper.
“I think the biggest thing was we did get a little frustrated considering that we are returning state champs and we’re kind of struggling in the first round a little bit,” Dalwadhi said. “But I think just our captains kept us with a cool head heading into overtime and like I said we just kind of had sense or urgency of getting a goal.”
Before Dalwadhi’s goal, the Knights got an opportunity in OT on a free kick to the left of the box in the 85th minute. Perk Valley headed the ball away from the goal but it went right to Alex Stewart, who volleyed a shot that went wide of the right post.
“It’s tough when they started putting a little bit more pressure on us and it’s tough to keep composed when they have those big bodies and they started servicing the balls in there” Allen said. “But I think our boys did a great job keeping the play in front of them and battled ‘til the end.”
North Penn finally found the winner in the 89th minute. Nate Kim sent a cross into the box from the right flank that found Jones in a crowd. Jones’ header skipped off the turf towards the far right post and into the path of Dalwadhi, who knocked the ball into the top of the open net.
“When the ball came in from Nate, I knew I wasn’t probably going to have a good angle so I tried to play it back post,” Jones said. “Luckily he was there to finish it.”
Jones came the closest to scoring in regulation, dashing down the right side during the first half, cutting in then out to shake free of a defender then lacing a low shot that hit off the far left post.
“I thought that one was in,” Jones said. “But that’s happened pretty much every game where I’ve had one or two guys on me the whole time but that leaves gaps in the field and other players to step up who are open and you know they obviously left him wide open at the back post so that was good to see.”
The Vikings made a solid push midway through the second half but could take advantage of the quality balls they delivered into the box.
“We were able to play quick combinations through the midfield and service the ball wide diagonally towards the second post,” Allen said. “And unfortunately I think about three balls someone just missed getting on it or they had someone marked just on the second post.”