Boys earn spot in soccer title game
Northwestern boys soccer head coach Nate Hunsicker has high praise for senior forward JD Haaf.
It was evident on Tuesday night that Hunsicker was breathing a little bit easier when Haaf had control of the ball in the Colonial League semifinal against No. 4 seed Salisbury.
Haaf scored two first half goals and the defense did the rest for the No. 1 seeded Tigers in a 2-0 win.
“Obviously it was the major swing and momentum changer,” said Hunsicker. “Two awesome strikes, definitely not easy shots by JD. It was the lead we needed and we took care of the rest in the second half.
“JD has definitely had an all-state quality year. He’s definitely been carrying us offensively. He’s just a great, strong, physical player with speed. He’s definitely the best striker in the Colonial League, if not the area.”
The Tigers will face No. 2 seed Moravian Academy, a 1-0 winner over Southern Lehigh, on Thursday at 7 p.m. back at Northern Lehigh for the title. Northwestern shut out the Lions 3-0 in the regular season.
The Lions won the title last year, while the Tigers won it in 2013.
When the Tigers suffered their only loss of the season to Salisbury in a nonleague contest early in October. Hunsicker hoped that it would give his team a shot in the arm for the postseason.
“The loss to them definitely motivated us,” said Hunsicker. “It certainly would have been nice to go 18-0, but 17-1 is nothing to sneeze at either.
“This was definitely a little bit of a revenge game for us. We’ll likely see them one more time yet in districts. So it’s nice to get this win in the mean time. And not making excuses from the last game, it was a cold rainy day and this kind of changed the overall demeanor of things. The boys were really hyped and wanted this one bad. We were the top seed for a reason and I told them you have to win games like this to prove that and they did.
Northwestern’s other contest against Salisbury was a 4-0 league win.
Hunsicker said the team’s shot selection and aggressiveness in the playoff game was the big difference between the win and the 1-0 loss to the Falcons.
Salisbury’s head coach thought the Tigers’ seedy defense limited his team’s attack.
“In certain points, they were quicker,” said Salisbury head coach Mark Allison. “We got the ball to a certain point and they basically shut us down from there to the goal. We didn’t really get any penetrating passes and that’s typically our game. They took that away from us.
“We had a few opportunities and if we would have capitalized on it, it would have been a little bit different game. But we’ll regroup.”
Allison agreed the teams could see each other again in the District 11 tournament.
“Hopefully a fourth time will be the charm as well”, Allison said.
Haaf’s first goal came with 9:38 left in the first half off an assist from Kenneth Gawelko.
His second came with just 21 seconds remaining until the break off an assist from Noah Meyers.
Both teams played great defense through a scoreless half.
“We were a little bit more aggressive and I think we settled down a little bit,” said Allison. “Our goalie (Tyler Keller) has played well all season. He’s kept us in games all season and kept us in the last Northwestern game and came up with key saves again today as well.”
Keller kept his team within striking distance. He had 12 saves, while Northwestern goalie Kyle Bellhorn had five saves.
The Tigers held a 6-4 edge in corners, but the Falcons had nine direct kicks to just five by Northwestern. Haaf had six of Northwestern’s shots on goal, while Brett Scott and Thomas Creighton added two apiece. John Yurconic and James Hadinger had two shots apiece on goal for Salisbury.