FRANCONIA >> With the gravity of the postseason drawing them closer, North Penn raised its game Thursday night against rival Souderton.
“I’ve been in the postseason before but since I’m a senior and a captain now, I feel like I really make a difference on the team,” said the Knights’ Tim Schwar. “And I feel like not only is it me, but all the other guys on the team. The atmosphere’s a little different now that I’m a senior.”
The North Penn boys came together for a 16-7 victory over Big Red and the NP girls followed with a 15-7 win, as both completed regular-season sweeps of Souderton.
“It’s always fun to play Souderton. Even though we’re rivals, we’re really friendly with each other,” said Schwar, who had two goals, an assist and a pair of steals. “It’s always fun to get on the bus with the team and come here.”
Aidan Faikish led the Knights with four goals (he also had three steals); Owen Fritz and Danny Mitchell each had three; Scott Klein and Schwar tallied two; and Patrick Lynch and Dylan Sisian each had one.
The North Penn boys, looking sharp from the start, broke out to a 4-2 lead after one and were ahead 8-3 at the half.
“(Our first game against Souderton) was one of our earlier games,” Faikish said. “We were trying to still figure out our offense and defense. In the first game, we got out too slow in the first quarter. So we tried to bounce back and I think we did a good job of that today.”
Thursday night’s complete performance was testament to the growth of the team, which has just one regular-season contest left before the postseason.
“Coming into the preseason, we had lost the base of the team,” Faikish said. “I think we really progressed throughout the course of the season. And we’re looking forward to a good postseason. I’m really pumped. Back at North Penn, the energy there is great. I remember growing up, coming to a states game at North Penn was really exciting.”
Said Schwar: “I feel like we definitely have cleaned up our act a little bit. There are still some rough areas that I think we can improve but we’ve definitely gotten a lot better during the course of the year.”
It was the regular-season finale for the North Penn girls, whose balanced attack included four goals each by Anna Evans and Paige Mitchell; two apiece by Brenna Mancini and Ava Zollars; and one each by Marin Clark, Charlie Shaw and Emma Raser.
“It was a good way for the girls to cap off the regular season,” Knights coach Jason Grubb said. “Coming in here, it was a very physical battle on both sides – boys and girls. It was a good way to finish for the girls.
“Both teams have gone through some adversities and are doing a good job of jelling right now. We finally have a full team playing so they’re getting more and more confident and finding the correct ways to do things. I think it’s gonna be a good end to the year. It’s what we work all year for so we’re in the home stretch now.”
Asked what was key this time around against Big Red, Evans said: “good defense especially, getting back and not letting any one-on-none’s or counter attacks.”
Raser and Mancini each had three steals for the Knights, who have refined their game since those early days in August.
“We had a couple losses at the beginning of the year and since then, we’ve done so much better,” Evans said. “Our team bonding has been better and it’s really shown in the water.”
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