TOWAMENCIN — The North Penn girls water polo team came up one win short of a state championship three-peat, falling 12-4 to Cumberland Valley Saturday night at the Rick Carroll Natatorium.
The top-seeded Eagles took the lead for good in the second quarter and dominated the second half, led by Emily Wickenheiser's seven-goal effort.
"They're insane,' Maidens all-state goalie Kat Perkins said of the high-powered Eagles, who went 3-0 against NP this fall. "We came a long way. Considering where we came from in the summer, we came so far. I never would have imagined we would make it this far.'
A team with just five seniors, third-seeded North Penn, which got a goal each from Julie Krout, Shannon Quinn, Kelly Fellmeth and Erin O'Neill, finished its season 20-7.
The game remained scoreless until the final minute of the first quarter.
Krout gave the Maidens a 1-0 lead but the Eagles tied it just moments later with a score by Wickenheiser. In the second quarter, Wickenheiser, an all-state selection, scored again to give Cumberland Valley its first lead but then Quinn evened things up at two apiece moments later.
The Eagles did all the scoring the rest of the period to go up 5-2 at the half and then built an 11-2 lead by the end of the third. Shyla Lintz, named Miss Water Polo after the match, led the Eagles with her all-around play, which included a hat trick and the game's final goal.
"Coming in, we knew we had a very difficult challenge,' said Maidens coach Bill Bartle, who has guided North Penn to the state final in seven of the past eight years, including five state crowns. "Cumberland Valley's an excellent team, very well-coached, experienced, strong, and they match up very well.
"I can't be any more proud of our kids. To come out of here with a second-place finish this year, we're extremely pleased. Our girls hung in there all year. We took a few lumps along the way and they battled back. They played exceptionally well this weekend.'
North Penn earned wins over Souderton Area and Governor Mifflin to reach the big game.
The Maidens' last loss in the state final came against Cumberland Valley, back in 2010. It's been six straight trips to the state championship for NP, including four in a row by the current seniors.
"The fact that we got here to the championship game for the fourth year in a row is just unbelievable,' Perkins said.
Earlier in the evening, Wilson defeated Governor Mifflin 10-6 in the third-place game. North Allegheny outscored Villa Maria 16-13 in a wild fifth-place matchup and Souderton Area topped Hazleton 10-7 in the seventh-place game.
To cap off the evening, Coach of the Year honors went to Springfield coach Bill Hence, who is also the diving coach at Souderton Area. Souderton boys water polo players in attendance honored Springfield by dressing up as Spartans.
Girls Water Polo State Final
Cumberland Valley 12, North Penn 4
(3) North Penn 1 1 0 2 - 4
(1) Cumberland Valley 1 4 6 1 - 12
NP: Krout, :57; CV: Wickenheiser, :47
CV: Wickenheiser, 6:11; NP: Quinn, 5:50; CV: Lintz, 2:44; CV: Kent, 2:14; CV: Lintz, 1:31
CV: Wickenheiser, 6:14; CV: Wickenheiser, 5:37; CV: Wickenheiser, 3:49; CV: Wickenheiser, 2:03; CV: Kent, :34; CV: Wickenheiser, :10
NP: Fellmeth, 6:47; NP: O'Neil, 2:31; NP: Lintz, 1:01
Follow Kev Hunter on Twitter @khunter10.