It was almost expected.
Senior Noah Meyers led the Northwestern boys soccer team in goals with 20. And on Tuesday night at Upper Perkiomen High School, Meyers recorded numbers 21 and 22 in leading the Tigers (25-0 overall) to a 3-1 victory over District 12 one-seed Archbishop Wood in the PIAA Class 3A semifinals.
It was so cold on Tuesday night during the PIAA Class 2A first round boys soccer game between Northwestern and Mifflinburg, that players couldn’t even feel their feet.
But at the 23-minute mark of the second half, things heated up in a hurry for the Tigers.
Kevin Slack threw wood on the fire and found the back of the net thanks to a perfect feed from Zach Creighton, during Northwestern’s 1-0 victory over Mifflinburg at Danville High School in Columbia County.
The Bangor Slaters looked to cap what they hope will be a turnaround season with an Eastern Conference championship. To do it, they had to beat Northwestern, which had shutout the Slaters 14-0 in the regular season.
This time around, points weren’t nearly as tough to come by, but the Tigers would have liked to have just a few more as they fell to Bangor 22-20.
Down eight points in the fourth quarter, the Tigers looked put together an 11-play drive that took just over six minutes off the clock and saw them convert two fourth-down plays late in the fourth quarter.
The Northwestern girls have been a staple at the state championship cross country meet in recent years.
But 2016 saw the Tigers fail to send a team to Hershey for the first time since 2010.
After winning the Colonial League title and placing second at the District 11 meet, Northwestern returned to Hershey on Saturday and finished sixth out of 19 Class 2A teams with 212 points.
“That was overall our main goal, was just to get those kids here,” said Northwestern head coach Chris Stitzel. “Today was just a bonus for them to top off a great season that we had.
Northwestern goalie Taylor Wanamaker has been sensational this season.
He just hasn’t always been very busy.
Despite allowing just three goals in his team’s first 21 games this season, Wanamaker’s contribution to Northwestern’s perfect season has often been overlooked.
Thursday night wasn’t one of those occasions, however.
With the Tigers’ season on the line in the District 11 Class 3A championship game against Allentown Central Catholic, Wanamaker needed to be at his best.
He didn’t disappoint.
Last season, Zach Creighton’s name was on the Northwestern varsity roster, but he didn’t see a whole lot of time on the field.
This year, the Northwestern junior was an everyday starter for the Tigers at center midfielder. But never did he play a more important role for the team than in Thursday’s district title game.
Creighton’s goal with a minute left in the second overtime gave the Tigers a 2-1 win over Allentown Central Catholic and their third straight District 11 Class 3A title.
The Northwestern girls soccer team has learned that one key to success is to not give up more than one goal in a game. Coming into Tuesday night’s PIAA Class 2A first-round game against Central Columbia, the Tigers (19-3-1) had allowed two or more goals just three times on the season and had lost two of those games.
Against the Blue Jays, they survived with a 3-2 win, but coach Kelly Bleam wasn’t happy with some defensive miscues that led to the two Central Columbia goals.
It might have been Halloween, but the Northwestern boys soccer team wasn’t getting frightened after 67 minutes of the District 11 Class 3A semifinal.
The Tigers stayed patient and finally broke through with a pair of goals in the final 13 minutes of the game to beat Southern Lehigh 2-0 and advance to their third straight district title game.
“First half we were getting the opportunities, but we weren’t putting them away,” said Tiger senior Noah Meyers. “We had one off the crossbar. Second half we played a bit better and we put two away.
Molly Tarvin couldn’t help but think about what might have been.
The Northwestern girls second place finish in the Class 2A standings at last week’s District 11 Cross Country Championships might not have been the result the team wanted. But the Tigers still clinched a spot at this weekend’s state meet and improved on last year’s result with their performance.
“We did want that first, we were gunning for that,” said Molly Tarvin, who finished 13th. “But second is better than fourth, which is what we were last year.
Facing adversity for the first time in the District 11 playoffs, and for one of the few times all season, Northwestern girls soccer head coach Kelly Bleam didn’t know how her team would respond.
It turns out, all she had to do was ask some of her seniors.
Because despite facing a 2-1 halftime deficit, the confidence of the Tiger players never wavered.
Their attitude translated into a collective ‘We got this.’
And they did.