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Hunsicker reaches milestone

Nate Hunsicker is in his 12th season as the head coach of the Northwestern Lehigh boys’ soccer team. For most of those seasons, the team has been a favorite in the Colonial League and in district playoffs and has made an appearance in districts in every season that Hunsicker has been the team’s coach.

The success of the program has allowed Hunsicker to reach the 200-win mark in short order. He got there with a 5-0 win at Notre Dame (Green Pond) in just the third game of the 2022 season.

“Honestly, it is a testament to the kids, the parents and the community because they have really embraced this game,” said Hunsicker. “When we hit our hot streak seven, eight, nine years, ago each grade after grade has built on that and we have developed a strong program.”

In 2014, Hunsicker guided the Tigers to their first District 11 championship game under his direction, but they came up on the wrong end of the score. In each of the next three seasons, Northwestern Lehigh came home with district gold, beating Salisbury in 2016 and then downing Allentown Central Catholic in each of the next two seasons. In 2017, the 3A final was a classic that the Tigers won 2-1 in double overtime on a bicycle kick by Jeff Garcia late in the second overtime. Northwestern has also been district champions in three of the four seasons since the historic win.

Northwestern also had back-to-back appearances in the PIAA championship game in 2016 and 2017, falling both seasons to powerhouse Lower Dauphin in the 3A classification. The Tigers also reached the state semifinal game in 2015.

In the Colonial League, Northwestern Lehigh won its first league title in 2005 and had not been back until Hunsicker led them there in 2012. Then, the tournament was comprised of just four teams and the Tigers went out in the first round. Since then, the Tigers truly have been the king of the league jungle with championships six championships and another trip to the finals where they lost to Southern Lehigh 2-1 on penalty kicks, which went 4-3 in favor of the Spartans.

Hunsicker figures to be the coach of the Tigers for a long time and already has some future players in mind for his team.

“I have a second and fourth grader, so I guess I have to hang on until they make their way through,” Hunsicker said with a laugh. By then, Hunsicker’s coaching legacy will have continued to grow and perhaps his kids will get to be a part of win number 300 or even 400 by the time they hit the varsity ranks.

Meanwhile, a couple of players have hit the 100-point milestone for Northwestern Lehigh. Senior Josh Zellner had three goals and three assists against Jim Thorpe to give him 101 points in his career. He beat junior Matt Johnson to the mark by one game. Johnson scored his 100th point against Salisbury in a 7-0 romp. Zellner currently has 42 goals and 22 assists for 106 career points, while Johnson has recorded 42 goals and 21 assists for 105 career points.

CONTRIBUTED PHOTO Northwestern Lehigh boys soccer head coach Nate Hunsicker (far right) recently got his 200th win when his team beat Notre Dame for its third win of the 2022 season.