Tiger boys soccer leads CL North Division
The Northwestern boys soccer team suffered just two Colonial League losses last season.
Monday afternoon, the Tigers had a chance to avenge one of those losses when Bangor brought its young team to New Tripoli.
Northwestern got its revenge, handing the Slaters a 3-1 Colonial League.
"This one was big for us," Northwestern head coach Nate Hunsicker said. "We felt we left one get away up at their place last year. We lost 1-0. We had a ton of chances, but we just couldn't finish.
"I knew the boys really wanted to redeem themselves from last year's short coming. I think we did that today. We bounced back."
For the first 17 minutes of the opening half, Northwestern controlled the ball on Bangor side of the field, getting off plenty of scoring opportunities. But it wasn't until 22:03 left in the second half when the Tigers scored their lone goal of the first half.
After Cody Gangaware got off a promising look on goal, the Panthers' keeper got a hand on it and deflected it away. The Tigers' Leigham Breckenbridge got a left foot on it and knocked it past Matt Palmer to the back right of the net.
After that, the Tigers only saw three more scoring opportunities arise and walked into halftime with a 1-0 lead over the visiting Slaters.
In the second half, the opportunities were easy to come by, but it took a bit longer to add any insurance goals.
Jihad Hereba got a shot off on goal, but Palmer got a hand on it to prevent further damage. Gangaware wasn't missing out a chance this time as he took in the deflection and cashed in with 16:18 left in the game. Hereba was credited with the assist.
Almost 10 minutes later, Jonathan Haaf finished off the scoring for the day. Brandon Ettl was credited with the assist.
"I think we played equally as well each half," Hunsicker said. "It was just more capitalizing on opportunities.
"I said I want us to be even more aggressive in the second half, take it to them twice as hard. The boys did that. Then the goals came."
With 6:21 left in the game, the Slaters' Tyler Learn spoiled what would have been the Tigers' eighth shut out of the season.
Hunsicker, who played goal keeper in his playing days at Northwestern, was proud of the 40-minute effort given by freshman goalie Kyle Bellhorn and his defensive front of Gangaware, Jonathan Blaine, Keegan Coffield and Matt Harshey.
"Not just today, it's the model of consistency day after day, game after game with these guys," Hunsicker said. "It's honestly something I don't even worry about too much. I know that they're going to go out there and give it their all. We pretty much have the same four defenders. Some time we will rotate a fifth in.
"We had one of our starters go down there in the second half and we plugged in another freshman Dominic Mertz. He gels so well with that unit. They're all on the same page. Between the four of them and our keeper, it's like clockwork. They're very trustworthy."
Trustworthy enough that the Tigers picked up another victory along the way and moved to 8-1-1 overall and 7-1-1 in the league. They have nearly clinched the North Division with a five-game lead over Bangor (2-6 in league) and are at the top of the District 11 Class AA.
Northwestern has already played its strongest opponents, which reside in the league's South Division. Three teams in that division have just one loss and each won came from a setback to the Tigers. Their only loss came at the hands of undefeated Saucon Valley.
The five teams remaining on Northwestern's Colonial League schedule have a combined league record of 5-35.
"With all due respect to all the games on the remaining schedule, we have kind of gone through the gauntlet of the big boys," said Hunsicker. "We definitely have to show up and not take any games for granted. We put ourselves in a very nice position at this point of this season."