Tigers three-peat in CL
Four Northwestern players were honored as Colonial League First Team all-stars before Thursday’s championship game against Notre Dame (Green Pond).
Two of those all-stars helped the Tigers break through in a big way against the Crusaders.
Senior Noah Meyers set up fellow senior Kenny Gawelko for the game’s first and only goal midway through the second half to lift No. 1 seed Northwestern (20-0) over No. 2 Notre Dame, 1-0, at Northern Lehigh High School.
“One of their center backs kind of shifted towards Meyers to pick him up, and what I saw was just a huge gap right between their two center backs,” Gawelko said. “I just ran onto that. Meyers played the ball perfectly right to my feet.”
Junior defender Luke Taylor and senior midfielder Andrew Goodolf were also named to the Colonial League First Team. Junior defender Caleb Danner made the Second Team, while senior goalie Taylor Wanamaker and senior midfielder Kevin Slack were honorable mention selections.
“I feel bad for Notre Dame,” head coach Nate Hunsicker said. “They gutted it out, and they played really well. They weren’t in this situation for a long time, so I think they have a lot to hold their heads high about.”
Both teams kept off the scoreboard for 50-plus minutes, it only took one pass to set up Northwestern’s best opportunity of the game. Dribbling at the center of the field, Meyers sliced the Crusaders’ defense and set up the Tigers’ second-leading scorer on the right side of the goal.
Gawelko’s first shot was saved by Notre Dame goalie Alex Ficarra, but Gawelko was there for the cleanup to punch it into the back of the net.
“It’s nice to be able to put one of us up top because we both bring different things,” Gawelko said. “I can hold the ball a little better, keep it at my feet and look the runners off. And he can use his pace. He is really quick. Normally he is the one getting the balls through, but today he held it up beautifully and we sort of switched roles.”
That tally was Gawelko’s 18th of the season. None were more meaningful than his one that came with 27:28 remaining in the championship game.
“I don’t know if we were a little bit nervous, but I felt in the first half we weren’t really playing our game,” Hunsicker said. “We were a little sloppy. We were kind of getting out of character a bit with our technical ability. Sometimes it’s not the prettiest game, but at the end of the day if you get the result and gut it out, that’s what counts.”
The defense, however, kept the Crusaders (15-4) off the board the entire way. It was Northwestern’s 17th shutout in 20 games this season.
“We work so hard on team defending, and on defending as a unit,” Hunsicker said. “Everyone deserves credit for the defense and for all of the shutouts we’ve been posting.”