Boys soccer tops Falcons to stay unbeaten
Northwestern boys soccer head coach Nate Hunsicker doesn’t have much to complain about with this year’s squad. And after a bit of a slow start during last week’s game against Salisbury, much of the same could have been said the way the Tigers closed out the game.
After a scoreless first half between the two sides, Hunsicker and the Tigers tweaked a few things on Salisbury’s home turf. It resulted in three second-half goals, and Northwestern (12-0 overall, 7-0 in Colonial League) stayed unbeaten on the season with a 3-0 shutout over the Falcons (3-8, 2-4) last Wednesday.
Northwestern added a 10-0 win against Pen Argyl to open this week, and has recently qualified for the District 11 Class 3A Tournament.
“In the first half we were a little frustrated and got out of sorts,” Hunsicker said. “In the second half we really came into our own I think. Salisbury did a fantastic job frustrating us in the final third. We were able to build up the majority of the chances and the majority of the possession in the first half, but we knew if we kept our composure it was only a matter of time until we cracked the back of the net.”
Breaking the scoreless tie was a strike from Jeff Garcia not even three minutes into the second half. The Tiger freshman midfielder made a move on the left side of the field and ripped a shot by diving Falcon goalie Baxter Reihman.
“We really stressed keeping our outside midfielders staying wide,” Hunsicker said. “We were noticing that Salisbury was kind of overloading the ball side. We wanted to have our outside midfielders on the weak side making diagonal runs. That’s kind of what attributed to the first goal.”
That goal, while still very early in the second half, seemed to set the tone for the rest of the game. Not even two minutes later, senior Connor Winter took a pass from senior Brandon Shah and headed the Tigers’ second goal past Reihman.
That score would hold until Winter scored his second of the game and eighth of the season. After his initial shot was saved by Reihman, Winter was there for the clean up goal to end Salisbury’s thoughts of any comeback.
“I saw the build-up play coming up,” said Winter of his first goal. “I predicted the header coming in, so I just came into the middle and slid in for the header.”
“He has a nose for the goal,” Hunsicker said. “He does a fantastic job for us when we bring him in on the wing. He is instant offense. He has really strong on-the-ball skills and he has a nose for the net.”
The Tiger defense, while not tested much from Salisbury’s lone two shots on goal, rose to the challenge when needed. That defense has been strong all season, and, like what was seen in the first half, can keep Northwestern in games if the offense every starts to struggle a bit. That doesn’t seem to be a problem, however.
“We played really well,” Winter said. “I think in the first half we were working really hard, and I think we finished everything out in the second half.”
The schedule will provide a number of tests coming up. Non-league games against Fleetwood and Freedom are still on the horizon, and a battle with Notre Dame-Green Pond, the Colonial League’s lone other unbeaten team, is next week.
The Tigers travel to Palisades on Thursday. Game time is 4 p.m.