Tigers win league title
Throughout Thursday night’s Colonial League championship game, the Northwestern boys’ soccer team took several shots at what seemed to be a brick wall in front of the Salisbury net.
The Tigers put a crack in it with a game-tying goal in the second half, but they couldn’t bring the wall completely down in 80 minutes of regulation.
In the second overtime period, it finally came crumbling down when Noah Meyers provided the game-winning shot as the Tigers defended last year’s league title with a 2-1 victory over the Falcons.
“Noah will run through a brick wall for you,” said Northwestern head coach Nate Hunsicker. “I think he ran through about three defenders there to make that happen. It was just an all-out hustle play for him.
“What a fantastic finish. Honestly, that was a hustle play.”
With 9:57 left in the second overtime, and Northwestern looking for a sledgehammer to take the wall down, Meyers lowered his shoulder and used it to provide the necessary blow.
The winning goal came after Northwestern received a throw in. Andrew Goodolf sent a perfect throw in to teammate Kenny Gawelko, who took in the throw and flicked it perfectly to a charging Meyers.
Meyers laid out for the ball and pushed it with his right shoulder past Falcon keeper Tyler Keller.
“It’s been an up-and-down season for me, but this was definitely the most important goal I ever scored,” said Meyers, who now has four goals this season. “Coach Hunsicker told me in the beginning of the first overtime period that he saw me scoring the game-winner, and that’s what I did. I’m so thankful I was able to do so since it’s such a great feeling.”
Salisbury (17-1-2) struck first in Thursday’s title game, which was played at Northern Lehigh High School. Patrick Adams scored with Ethan Heydt assisting to take a 1-0 lead in the first half.
The Tigers (19-0-1) got even with 29:57 left in the second half when Gawelko knotted the game with his 27th goal of the season. Andrew Goodolf was credited with his 14th assist.
At that point, the game resembled the 1-1 tie the team’s had played to on Sept. 22 in New Tripoli. The game looked headed for penalty kicks before Meyers finished it.
The Tigers held an impressive 17-4 edge in shots on goal. Salisbury goalkeeper Keller made 15 saves. The goals were only the ninth and 10th that the Falcons’ allowed all season long. Northwestern’s four-year starting goalie Kyle Bellhorn made two saves. At halftime of the girls championship game, Bellhorn was announced as the league’s First Team All-Colonial League. The honor went to Keller last year, while Bellhorn was the Second-Team selection in 2015. This year Keller was Second Team
Bellhorn gave credit to the players in front of him for his honor. Those included Caleb Danner, Thomas Creighton, Jonathan Blaine and Joshua Bryan. “I absolutely love my defense,” said Bellhorn. “I couldn’t ask for a better defense. They do anything I ask of them. We work as a unit to shift and move around in order to stop shots and stop chances from coming in. It’s a blessing to have them in front of me.”
Northwestern defended last year’s Colonial League title. It also marks the Tigers’ third Colonial League title in four years (20013, 2015, 2016). The two teams met in last year’s District 11 Class 2A, championship game, but this season they will go on to separate district tournaments. The Falcons remain in Class 2A where they will be the top seed. Northwestern will be the top seed in Class 3A. Districts begin with opening-round matches Tuesday and quarterfinals on Thursday.