Boys soccer wins six straight after losses
Northwestern Lehigh had a recent two-game bump in the road with losses to Saucon Valley and Palisades but rebounded nicely. They notched a 1-0 win over Faith Christian Academy and then returned to Colonial League play with wins over Notre Dame of Green Pond (10-2-0 overall, 8-2-0 EPC), Pen Argyl (8-5, 5-5), and Wilson (7-7, 3-5).
Over the weekend, the Tigers played to a 2-2 tie in a nonleague game against Pennsbury before returning to the win column Tuesday by beating Salisbury (6-7, 3-7) in a 6-1 game.
The recent streak has Northwestern (9-3-1, 7-3-0) with a slight edge in the district rankings to have the top seed overall.
In Colonial League play, the Tigers are currently in the middle of the pack and could finish anywhere between second and sixth when the season comes to an end.
For much of the season, the scoring has been spread out among Northwestern players, but Matthew Johnson has been on a scoring binge of late, picking up a hat trick in the win over the Crusaders and another Tuesday at Salisbury. He added one goal in the win over Wilson.
Josh Zellner has added single goals in the last three games, while Cayden Fitch scored two in the win over Wilson and Luke Van Lierop had two in the Salisbury game.
“He [Johnson] has played really well all season and has stepped up his game lately,” said Northwestern coach Nate Hunsicker. “We get contributions up and down the lineup from guys not just in scoring but setting up goals and playing defense. I think one of our strengths is that we don’t have to rely on just one or two players.”
The Tigers lost a lot of firepower to graduation and have had more than their fair share of injuries along the way this season but have been able to work through the schedule. Had Hunsicker known ahead of time about the injuries, he likely would have been happy with where his team is at this point in the season, despite a couple disappointing losses.
The regular season schedule has just three games remaining for Northwestern Lehigh. In league play they host Northern Lehigh (0-12, 0-8) and then travel to Catasauqua (2-9, 2-8) to finish the season. They also have an nonleague game against Freedom (10-3 overall, 9-3 EPC) left on the schedule.
As of Tuesday evening, there were five teams – Notre Dame, Southern Lehigh (8-4-1, 7-2-0), Northwestern, Palisades (8-5-0, 7-3-0) and Saucon Valley (7-3-0, 7-2-0) - all within one game of second place in the Colonial League standings. The problem for the Tigers is that they have losses against Southern Lehigh, Palisades and Saucon Valley, which would give those teams the tiebreaker should they finish with identical records.
“It’s that time of year when you start to look at those things and realize how much a game or two here and there can mean, but for us, we just have to focus on the remaining games,” Hunsicker explained. “We can’t change what happened before, so we just have to keep playing and see where we are when it’s all over.”