SV upsets Northwestern in title game
Northwestern outshot Saucon Valley 12-1. The Tigers also held a 12-1 advantage in corner kicks. And the top-seeded, three-time defending district champion Tigers dominated time of possession the entire second half.
But when all was said and done, the only stat that mattered was the 1-0 final score in favor of Saucon Valley.
Zack Mikota scored on a penalty kick in the first half to lift Saucon Valley to a 1-0 victory and the District 11 Class 3A boys soccer championship last week at Emmaus High School’s Memorial Field. The loss ended Northwestern’s run of three straight district titles.
“I feel bad for the kids,” head Tiger coach Nate Hunsicker said. “It’s just a crushing defeat the way the game went on. For the only goal to concede via a PK, and how we were just pounding on the door in the second half, it’s a tough one to swallow.”
The loss also snapped Northwestern’s 59-game unbeaten streak against Colonial League foes in regular season play or postseason play. The Tigers had lost to Salisbury back in the 2015 regular season, but that was scheduled as a non-league contest.
Saucon Valley (15-3-1) jumped in front late in the first half after Northwestern was called for that penalty inside the 18’. Moments later, Mikota ripped a shot by Tiger goalie Zach Rosamalia with 2:58 to play in the opening half.
Hunsicker, however, was not discouraged by the deficit.
“We trailed a couple of times at halftime this year,” Hunsicker said. “Definitely this year a lot more than previous years. So, it wasn’t necessarily uncharted territory, but we have a resilient group of guys. They played their tails off in the second half. It is beyond me how at least five of those shots did not go in the back of the net.”
And Northwestern dominated the second half, generating nine shots on goal and 10 corner kicks over the final 40 minutes alone. Unfortunately, none of those opportunities found its way by Panther goalie Sean Cyphers, who finished with 11 saves.
“Soccer is a crazy game,” Hunsicker said. “I think the first half was played pretty 50-50. We thoroughly outplayed them in the second half. The shot counter clearly indicates that. We gave up one shot the whole game—the PK. It’s just one of those things.”
Midfielder Zach Creighton, in particular, had plenty of chances on target in the second half. Two of them came in the final five minutes, including one off a corner from Jeff Garcia that directed off the bottom of the crossbar but outside of the Panther’s goal line.
Unfortunately, the ball doesn’t bounce the way one wants it to. And that was definitely the case for Hunsicker and the Tigers last week.
Despite its district title and state playoff appearance streak coming to an end, Hunsicker doesn’t have plans on surrendering the dominance his program has had in the Colonial League and District 11 over the past four years.
“No, absolutely not,” Hunsicker said. “We have our league win streak going. We have all of those league titles in a row, and by no means is this over.
“It’s phenomenal for these senior kids to win four consecutive league titles. They haven’t experienced a league loss in their entire life. They hadn’t experienced a district loss in their entire life until tonight. They have absolutely nothing to hang their heads about.”