Article By: CHUCK HIXSON Special to the Press
In any sport, it’s normal to focus on what is happening immediately where the ball is. In soccer, it’s easy to focus on who scores the goal and forget just how that goal was set up by other members of the team. Northwestern’s dominance in the Colonial League is predicated on just those types of things.
In their 3-1 league championship win over Moravian Academy, the Tigers did all of the little things right.
Northwestern players just seemed to be in the right place at the right time. Any ball in the air seemed destined to return to the field and be controlled by a player in a black uniform. With the ball in the air, Tigers players weren’t stationary. Instead, they moved into position to make a play that would set up a pass or stop Moravian Academy from gaining any sort of ball control throughout the game.
“We have aggressive players and I think a big reason we had success in this game was the way we won most of the 50-50 balls,” said coach Nathan Hunsicker.
Northwestern players also seemed to be in the way of a lot of balls passed on the ground as well. Moravian Academy wasn’t able to work the ball down the field, no matter whether they tried to do it with a long ball or by a controlled passing approach.
It doesn’t hurt that a number of players on the team are familiar with each other not just from playing together in high school, but playing together for a number of years on both school and club teams. They’ve come to know exactly what to expect from each other and have a way of knowing how each other moves and where they’ll be on the field.
Seyfried’s second goal was a great example of that when Luke Taylor played a ball in a perfect spot ahead of Seyfried, knowing that his long-time teammate would close the gap and get to the ball in good position.
“I’ve been playing with Luke and a lot of other players on our team since we were eight years old, so there’s a lot of familiarity there,” said Seyfried. “A lot of times, he’s going to see my runs just because we’ve been playing together for so long.”
The Tigers also have a good mix of players. Sophomore Jeff Garcia is one of the better ball handlers in the Colonial League, while senior Jacob Sacco has a way of getting to any ball that comes anywhere near him. Sacco also doubles as a potential offensive threat in spots, including scoring the game-winning goal in overtime against Southern Lehigh during the regular season when the Tigers unbeaten streak over league opponents appeared to be in jeopardy.
When the style of play turns physical, the Tigers can play that type of game as well. They were physical against Moravian Academy and when the Lions turned up the heat physically, Northwestern responded rather than shrink.
Caleb Danner, a senior, is one of the tougher players you’ll find, but also has some finesse in his game.
Add to that the passing abilities of players like Taylor and the fire-power of players like Seyfried and you’ve got a complete team poised to make another run and potentially go deep into states as they look for a return trip to Hershey to play in the PIAA finals.
Before thinking about states, Northwestern has to maneuver its way through District 11 play, starting next Tuesday. The trophies for the last three District 11 championships in Class 3A boys soccer reside in New Tripoli and the Tigers figure to have a good shot at adding a fourth to equal their run in the Colonial League.
“This is amazing [winning a fourth straight Colonial League title],” said Seyfried. “But we know it’s only the start. We want four straight district titles and to go back to Hershey and add a state championship before we’re done.”