Northwestern Press

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PRESS PHOTO BY NANCY SCHOLZ Matthew Strickland reaches for a ball during Northwestern's win over Southern Lehigh in the Colonial League semifinals. PRESS PHOTO BY NANCY SCHOLZ Matthew Strickland reaches for a ball during Northwestern's win over Southern Lehigh in the Colonial League semifinals.

Tigers reach boys soccer title game

Thursday, October 17, 2013 by TJ ENGLE in HS Sports

The last three years Northwestern's Kyle Willis has been playing his heart out for the sake of the upperclassmen on his Northwestern boys' soccer team.

This year it is his turn. The Northwestern senior and fourth-year player fulfilled a career-long goal Monday night in Slatington.

Willis and the Tigers beat Southern Lehigh, 3-1, to advance to the Colonial League boys soccer championship game, which was played Wednesday night (after Press deadline).

Willis was on two Colonial League playoff teams, in 2010 and '12, but both fell short of the title game, losing in the semifinal round.

Willis scored two goals in the semifinal win over Southern Lehigh.

"Every year I have been playing to do it for the seniors because it's their last year," said Willis, who has nine goals and 20 assists on the season. "Two years ago, when I was a sophomore, it was my brother's (Andrew) senior year, and we couldn't get anything for them.

"Last year, I pretty much had brothers as seniors and we couldn't get anything for them. We lost in the semis to Southern Lehigh."

Earlier this season, third-year coach Nate Hunsicker, a former Northwestern soccer player, saw his team play Southern Lehigh to a 0-0 drw.

"I would be lying if I would say that I didn't use last year's loss to them in the league playoffs as motivation," Hunsicker said. "But, if we didn't come with our A game, we weren't going to get the W. We definitely had a little extra fuel, a little extra incentive to really get the win and get a little redemption for us."

Tiger senior midfielder Brandon Ettl prevented another scoreless tie between the two teams by scoring his 20th goal of the season with 20:53 left in the first half.

After that, Northwetsern turned defensive and the Spartans to Northwestern of it, outshooting the Tigers 13-4 before they capitalized finally on their 18th attempt against freshman keeper Kyle Bellhorn. Ryan Fowler scored the Spartans' only goal with 25:30 left in the game.

It served as a wake up call as the Tigers finally took course in making things possible of getting to the league's promise land.

Willis made his own dream possible by breaking the tie with a goal with 5:42 left in the game.

Then, with two second left in the contest, the Tigers were awarded a penalty kick and Willis capitalized on it.

Hunsicker wants to see the best for the seven seniors on his squad by scoring another victory over Moravian Academy, which beat Saucon Valley 5-0 in the other semifinal. The Tigers take on the Lions in Wednesday night's title game at Salisbury High School. Northwestern defeated Moravian 2-1 during the regular season.

"I got a bunch of seniors on my team this year," Hunsicker said. "This is my third year as head coach, so I had a lot of them as sophomores. They were double rostered on varsity and I said to them this year, 'We're going home with a medal. I sure would like to make it gold.' So, now we're on the doorstep. It's just a matter of finishing the job."