Tigers beat Lions for CL title
From the start of the Colonial League championship game, Northwestern completely dominated play. The problem was that while the Tigers were controlling the ball and getting good looks at the net, they were unable to get the ball into the back of the net.
Within the first nine minutes of the game, they had a free kick from 25-yards out deflected by goalie Ethan Buck and another free kick clank off the crossbar and carry over the net and out of bounds. In the end though, the Tigers prevailed in a 3-1 win to take their fourth straight Colonial League championship.
“It really was getting frustrating, but they weren’t able to take anything to the net, so I wasn’t too concerned,” said Northwestern senior Sam Seyfried, who finally changed the scoreboard with 27:59 left in the first half when he got an open look to beat Buck and give the Tigers a 1-0 lead.
While the lead was nice, the Lions weren’t ready to admit defeat. Before long, Moravian Academy (15-4-0) was the aggressor and had Northwestern (18-1-1) on the ropes. Just over halfway through the second half, Austin Recinos broke free down the right side of the field and put a shot past goalie Zach Rosamalia to tie the game 1-1.
“I was most nervous not that they equalized it, but just how they were capitalizing on the momentum and we were under duress nonstop,” said Northwestern coach Nathan Hunsicker.
The goal woke Northwestern up and Seyfried, who was snubbed for first-team honors among Colonial League all-stars, took over again to put his team back on top. Just 1:20 after Moravian’s goal to tie the game, Seyfried made a run down the left side of the field and took a picture-perfect pass from Luke Taylor and turned it into the go-ahead goal.
“I definitely knew we were the better team and we had been taking it to them the majority of the game,” Seyfried said. “I thought ‘there is no way we’re not putting another one in,’ but I didn’t think it was going to come so soon after. I got a phenomenal through-ball from Luke Taylor, who played it beautifully over the defender and I was able to get control and take it in.
“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. A lot of times, he’s going to see my runs just because we’ve been playing together for so long.”
Both teams battled from there on but Northwestern deflated the Lions balloon with 6:46 left in regulation when junior Jason Blaine fired from 25-yards out and put the ball sharply past Buck to make it 3-1. The goal decreased the pressure level for the Tigers.
“Honestly, I was feeling good about tonight and when I went in late in the game, I was just looking to make an impact,” said Blaine. “It definitely allowed us to settle in and just finish out the game.”
As it happened, Hunsicker played a hunch when he put Blaine into the game in the second half.
“I said ‘Jason, I’m going to put you out there and you’re going to score one,’ and that was the nail,” said Hunsicker.
Seyfried admitted that he was a little disappointed to not be a first-team all-league player. Instead, he was voted onto the second-team. Rather than sulk, he used the snub as motivation to help lead the Tigers to Colonial League gold.
“If I’m being honest, yeah, that really motivated me,” he said. “I was a little frustrated, but we got the Colonial League championship and that’s all that I really care about.”
With the playoff wins over Southern Lehigh and Moravian Academy, the Tigers have now gone 58-0-1 in their last 59 games against Colonial League opponents. Northwestern has advanced through districts to reach the PIAA finals in each of the past two seasons. They start their district run Tuesday against the winner of the Central Catholic at Southern Lehigh quarterfinal game as the Tigers hope for a return to play in Hershey.