KNIGHT SLAYER

DeRosa’s hat trick puts Hen­der­son into state semis

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - SPORTS - By An­drew Robin­son arobin­son@21st-cen­tu­ry­media.com @ADRobin­son3 on Twit­ter

ROY­ERS­FORD >> Frank DeRosa summed it up pretty well.

The West Ch­ester Hen­der­son se­nior striker noted his team only had four good scor­ing chances in the first half against North Penn on Satur­day af­ter­noon in their PIAA quar­ter­fi­nal at SpringFord Mid­dle School. DeRosa also rightly noted that his team, or more ac­cu­rately, he had scored on three of them.

DeRosa’s first-half hat trick woke up the War­riors from a lethargic start as they took down the Knights 5-1 in a game that wasn’t as far apart as the score looked.

“I was sur­prised to be hon­est be­cause we came out very flat, very lack­ada­si­cal,” DeRosa said. “We had four chances in to­tal and hap­pened to score three of them. To score three in the first half against a good team is a huge ac­com­plish­ment.”

Nei­ther DeRosa or Hen­der­son coach Sean Ryan could pin­point ex­actly why the War­riors, who have been on a blis­ter­ing tear since the start of districts, came out the way they did. But it was all the Knights early on, de­spite not hav­ing any shots to show for it.

The game would turn on Hen­der­son’s first trek into the North Penn box. Hen­der­son’s Ai­den McFad­den and North Penn’s Nick Terchek got tan­gled up in the corner of the box, and one of the of­fi­cials deemed it enough to call for a penalty kick. Up stepped DeRosa, the team’s des­ig­nated PK taker and, after a longer than usual pause, buried it with 29:29 left in the first half.

“From where I was stand­ing it looked like a PK, but of

course other peo­ple will have other opin­ions,” DeRosa said. “I felt like it set­tled us down a lit­tle bit and after we got the sec­ond and third ones, we got more into our rhythm lead­ing into the sec­ond half.”

“Sure, it changes the game and it’s dis­ap­point­ing but you can’t lose 5-1 and blame ref­er­ees and I wouldn’t go there,” North Penn coach Paul Duddy said. “But that cer­tainly af­fected the game that early.”

DeRosa dou­bled the lead with 17:42 left on a nice header after McFad­den had flicked a long throw back in the striker’s di­rec­tion. DeRosa said he was ex­pect­ing North Penn keeper Bobby Dean to make a play on the ball in mid-air but when the keeper was a split-sec­ond be­hind on his de­ci­sion, DeRosa was able to flick the header into the net’s open space.

That goal was huge be­cause North Penn started to ap­ply a lot of pres­sure right after, but play­ing down 2-0 was a lot to ask.

“Our spirit is ba­si­cally to shake it off and con­tinue play­ing and I think that’s what we tried to do the whole game,” North Penn se­nior de­fender Noah Kwort­nik said. “After that PK, it showed what the refs were go­ing to do, but you can’t worry about the refs. We had to play our game and we did a good job of it after that penalty kick get­ting out form back.”

Hen­der­son goal­keeper Brady McSwain came up big in the first half, sav­ing a shot by Luke McMa­hon then get­ting enough hands on a great rip by mid­fielder Mike Kohler to knock it away for a corner. Yet for all the pres­sure, the Knights couldn’t get one back and two min­utes after Kohler’s hit, saw the deficit in­crease.

An ini­tial shot was blocked, caus­ing a scram­ble in the box that DeRosa pounced on, fir­ing the free ball into the net for his third goal of the af­ter­noon.

“It gave them all the mo­men­tum and that’s what won them the game,” North Penn se­nior for­ward Nate Bax­ter said. “The (PK) call lifted all the mo­men­tum off of us onto them and I guess we didn’t re­spond well and un­for­tu­nately that cost us the game.”

With McSwain play­ing ex­cep­tional, the Hen­der­son backs were able to po­lice up the area, clear­ing balls and win­ning a lot of the 50/50 bat­tles that are so cru­cial in the out­come of a match. Duddy even con­ceded that the War­riors were the bet­ter team win­ning those sec­ond chances and other balls.

Hen­der­son had the lead and the mo­men­tum at the half, but wasn’t con­tent to sit on it.

“We don’t sub­scribe to that just be­cause you’re win­ning, you sit back,” Ryan said. “We brought some subs in, some guys that were fresh. We want to play both sides of the ball and I felt they came in and gen­er­ated some chances. North Penn made some good de­fen­sive plays but we con­tin­ued to press, which is how we want to play.”

The War­riors scored their fourth goal less than two min­utes into the sec­ond half on the most con­tro­ver­sial mo­ment of the day. Hen­der­son had the ball on the end­line and one of the of­fi­cials blew his whis­tle, au­di­ble across the sta­dium, to call it out. North Penn play­ers stopped but the ball had al­ready been played off the line and McFad­den put it away.

After an ini­tial call of no goal, the two of­fi­cials clos­est to the goal con­ferred then called the goal good. An­other con­fer­ence fol­lowed with all three of them and they only ex­pla­na­tion they of­fered was that no whis­tle was ever blown.

“They said there was no whis­tle,” Duddy said. “We, of course, thought it was out.”

“It’s heart-break­ing,” Kohler said. “We’d been work­ing for this point the whole year and it feels like it’s been taken away from us.”

Hen­der­son added its fifth with 30:01 left when Tom King got up and put a beau­ti­ful header into the net off a long throw-in by Richie Sch­lentz.

Bax­ter pulled one back for North Penn with 21:57 left, off an as­sist from Nick Terchek. The Knights had a cou­ple of other chances, but noth­ing else got past McSwain, who made seven saves in the win.

“It’s frus­trat­ing, it’s really up­set­ting be­cause it’s our last game as se­niors,” Bax­ter said. “It doesn’t rep­re­sent the flow of the game at all. It’s just a sad way to go out after this sea­son.”

North Penn still ac­com­plished a lot this sea­son, win­ning the SOL Con­ti­nen­tal ti­tle, tak­ing third in Dis­trict I and mak­ing their first state tour­na­ment ap­pear­ance since 2004. Then they built on it by get­ting their first state win in Duddy’s ten­ure. A lot of good se­niors like Dean, Terchek, Bax­ter, Kwort­nik and Kohler are leav­ing, but there is a lot of good young tal­ent on the ros­ter.

For guys like McMa­hon and fresh­man Carter Houli­han, the bar has been raised. Kohler said when he has a minute to step back and think about it, he’ll re­al­ize he and his team­mates did a lot to be proud of this year. They just weren’t ready to do it Satur­day.

“(Hen­der­son was) bet­ter to­day, on the day, they were bet­ter,” Duddy said. “There’s no doubt about it and that’s what the score­board says. But I’m not sure the score­board tells the way the game went.”

Hen­der­son is into the state semi­fi­nals, where it will face El­iz­a­beth­town on Tues­day. The War­riors have a lot of tal­ent and with all those guys seem­ingly in top form the last month, it’s made for some re­mark­able soc­cer.

“Start­ing with Penn Wood the first round of districts, we’ve just been on fire,” DeRosa said. “Once we scored the goal that tied Lower Me­rion with two min­utes left, we’ve been rid­ing mo­men­tum like I’ve never seen be­fore. We’ve scored over 25 goals in six play­off games, which is amaz­ing for any team. I don’t even think Cen­tral Bucks (East) did that last year, and they were amaz­ing.”

BOB RAINES--DIG­I­TAL FIRST ME­DIA

Wes Ch­ester Hen­der­son goal­keeper Brady McSwain cor­rals a cross against North Penn in Satur­day’s PIAA Class AAAA boys soc­cer quar­ter­fi­nal at Spring-Ford High School.

BOB RAINES--DIG­I­TAL FIRST ME­DIA

North Penn’s Eric Szi­lagyi, left, and Hen­der­son’s Ai­den McFad­den bat­tle for a ball in front of the North Penn goal.

BOB RAINES--DIG­I­TAL FIRST ME­DIA

North Penn’a Mike Kohler fights for a loose ball with Hen­der­son’s Richie Sch­lentz and Zach Roberts in the first half Satur­day.

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