Tigers headed to final
Northwestern has been atop the Colonial League boys’ soccer landscape for the past two years, winning the league titles in 2015 and 2016.
On Thursday, the Tigers will look to complete the coveted three-peat when they face Notre Dame (Green Pond) in the Colonial League championship game. Top-seeded Northwestern (19-0) disposed of No. 4 Saucon Valley (10-5-3) in Tuesday’s semifinal game, 4-0, at Northern Lehigh High School.
“That was probably our most complete game of soccer all year,” Northwestern head coach Nate Hunsicker said. “We definitely played that whole 80 minutes. We’ve been preaching ever since the end of the regular season that, granted, yes we went 18-0, but I thought there were times throughout the course of the season that we only played 60 or 70 minutes.”
With the way Northwestern’s defense had been playing all season, one goal figured to be enough. That first one came midway through the first half on a Kenny Gawelko rip into the back of the net, but the offense was far from finished.
Gawelko then set up Andrew Goodolf in front of the Panthers’ goal for a clear shot on goal. His shot hit off the crossbar and over the goal line to put the Tigers in front 2-0 with just 5:16 remaining in the first half.
“It really means something to us, to this school, to this community, the unbeaten streak that we have in this league,” Gawelko said. “It just means that we keep going towards our goals, and we’re hoping to reach those.”
Zach Creighton, who assisted on the Tigers’ first goal, played the role of facilitator once again midway through the second half. The junior midfielder set up Noah Myers, who gave Northwestern a 3-0 lead with just under 20 minutes to play.
The Tigers struck again just 40 seconds later. Creighton’s penalty kick goal sealed the victory for Northwestern.
“We kept possession real well, especially in the first half,” Myers said. “In the second half it was a little more defensive for us, but we kept our ground and scored two more.”
The regular season meeting between the two teams was the only game in which Northwestern trailed all season. That 1-0 deficit didn’t last long, but the script this time around was completely different.
“We got a pretty quick equalizer,” Hunsicker said. “But they are a hard-working team, and they play a high-tempo brand of soccer. We’ll probably see them in districts again I would assume.”
Northwestern will meet No. 2 Notre Dame (Green Pond) in Thursday’s championship game at 6 p.m. back at Northern Lehigh High School.
No other team in program history had finished undefeated in the regular season until this year’s squad went 18-0.
“It’s definitely a great accomplishment,” Hunsicker said. “But we measure our true success in postseason victories, so today was step one toward our next goal.”
The Tigers’ 4-0 win was their 16th shutout in 19 games thus far. Northwestern has allowed just three goals all season long.