You can call them opportunistic. Northwestern took advantage of early mistakes by Salisbury and came away with a 27-14 win over the Falcons in the District 11 semifinal game at Tiger Stadium.
On the opening drive, it was a bad snap on a punt that wound up netting just six yards to give the Tigers good starting position, which led to an early 7-0 lead.
Parkland coach Al Haddad has two traditions with his team. The first comes just prior to the game when the starting lineups are announced he and Regan Allsop jump as high as they can to give each other a high-five. After the game, he hands out the inaptly named fun-size Snickers bars to his players.
After his high-five prior to the district championship game, Haddad turned to his coaches and said “I only get to do that four more times,” referring to the four games that the team would have to play to become state champions.
Northwestern’s road to the District 11 boys soccer championship didn’t start this season. It began last year with a young team that improved throughout the season and played its best in late fall.
This year’s team, with most of last year’s roster still intact, picked up right where last year’s team left off. Then went one step further.
The Tigers earned their first district boys soccer title since 2004 when they topped Salisbury, 2-0 last Thursday at Whitehall High School.
Northwestern head coach Nate Hunsicker had reason to be concerned entering what was the fourth game his team would play against Salisbury this season.
Magnifying those concerns was the fact that this one was for the District 11 Class AA championship and a berth in the PIAA State Tournament.
The Tigers, now 22-1 on the year, suffered their lone loss to the Falcons during the regular season.
Northwestern’s opponents tend to focus on striker JD Haaf, and for good reason.
In leading the Tigers to Colonial League and District 11 Class AA titles, the senior amassed a single-season best 43 goals, putting him less than a handful away from setting the school’s career scoring record.
But in the first round of the PIAA Boys’ Soccer Championships, Northwestern showed District 1 champion Pottsgrove that Haaf’s not the only one other teams need to be concerned about.
For a long time, Northwestern was used to playing a 10-game football schedule and then handing in their uniforms and moving on with the school year. Now though, things are different. The Tigers not only expect to play more than 10 games, they expect to play a lot of extra games.
Besides parents, coaches and friends gathered together for yet another trip to Hershey, there was another presence occupying Northwestern’s tent. A group of alumni runners, which included Lindsay Kerr and Rachele Cerrone, among others, was also in attendance to cheer on their successors at Saturday’s PIAA Cross Country Championships.
There’s no question the current group of Tigers put together a performance even those graduates were impressed with, led by freshman Maddie Consuelos.
The Northwestern offense certainly had a different look last Friday than in any other game this season. Yes, Harry Hall still led the team in carries and rushing yards, but his six carries and 46 yards were a far cry from the 25 to 40 carries and near 200 yard performances that he’s used to.
The Tigers had six different receivers catch passes, used three different quarterbacks and had five different players get into the end zone. Fortunately, the result was much the same as Northwestern downed Catasauqua (1-9) 39-14 on senior night at Tiger Stadium.
Sometimes people just have a knack for perfect timing. If you ask the Northwestern Tigers, Joe Colucci is one of those people. Colucci picked a tie game with just over six-minutes left to score his first touchdown of the season as the Tigers downed Palmerton 28-21.
Colucci went 38 yards on a shuttle pass from Dylan Snyder, breaking a couple early tackles to cap off a 66-yard drive for Northwestern that put the Tigers ahead to stay.
Coming into the season with nine of last year’s starters returning from a team that reached the league playoffs and district final last season, the goals were clear this season for Northwestern’s boys soccer team and they included league and district titles.
The Tigers achieved the first of those last Thursday, outlasting Moravian 1-0 in the Colonial League title game.
The Tigers capitalized on a corner play early in the first half and then got an outstanding effort from goal keeper Kyle Bellhorn.