NW boys soccer has built a dynasty
Every team sport has them. Dynasties develop over time and new ones are formed all the time.
The University of Alabama has dominated the collegiate football landscape over the last decade, winning four national championships since 2009. The New England Patriots have won three of the past six Super Bowls. And the Golden State Warriors, winning two of the last three NBA Finals, have become one the most popular and successful teams of all-time.
And now it certainly looks as if another dynasty has formed in the Lehigh Valley sports scene, residing in New Tripoli. Last week’s 1-0 victory over Notre Dame (Green Pond) awarded the Northwestern boys soccer team its third straight Colonial League title and fourth in five seasons.
“It absolutely does not get old,” head coach Nate Hunsicker said. “The nerves absolutely don’t go away. When you’re in the moment, you want it for the kids. They bust their butts so hard for months. And especially for our seniors. They are fortunate enough to be walking away with several league championships.”
This senior group, led by First Team Colonial League All-Stars Noah Myers, Kenny Gawelko and Andrew Goodolf, can now call themselves league champions for a third straight year.
That unit also hasn’t lost much in recent seasons. The unbeaten Tigers (20-0 overall; 12-0 in Colonial League) haven’t been tested too often in 2017. Their only loss last fall came in the PIAA Class 3A state championship game against Lower Dauphin. The year before that, Northwestern went 24-2, one of those losses again coming in the PIAA playoffs.
Combine the past three years and you have an eye-popping record of 68 wins, just three losses and one tie. Two of those losses came in the Tigers’ final game of the season. Despite all of the success, Hunsicker is aware how fortunate his team has been on this run to success.
The victory against the Crusaders was the Tigers’ 20th straight against a Colonial League opponent. No league foe has topped the Tigers since Salisbury did in 2015, all be it a non-league contest in the schedule.
The streak might have seemed like it was in jeopardy after 50 minutes of scoreless soccer in the league title game. But when Gawelko netted what would be the game’s only goal with 27:28 left in the second half, the Tigers had all they needed to keep the streak alive.
“It’s frustrating because it could be a mistake, a bad bounce, a kid makes a bad tackle in the box and a penalty kick decides it,” Hunsicker said. “When you’re getting down to 15-20 minutes left, anything can happen. One small bad break can be the difference between winning and losing.”
Fortunately for the Tigers, they’ve been on the positive side of those situations. The success doesn’t stop in leagues, either. Northwestern has an opportunity to match its league three-peat with a title in the upcoming District 11 Class 3A tournament, which would also be its third straight. The top-seeded Tigers have earned a bye in the quarterfinals and will face either No. 4 Southern Lehigh or No. 5 Saucon Valley in the semifinals.