College Football Notebook: Northwestern Lehigh Boys 10-0
Nathan Hunsicker is in his 12th season as head coach of Northwestern Lehigh’s men’s soccer program.
Hunsicker enjoyed great success during his tenure, guiding Tiger teams to 207 total wins and two appearances in state championship games.
So when Hunsicker said in preseason that this could be the best offensive team he’s ever had, it was a big, bold statement. And across 10 contests, it looks like this bold statement might be on target.
Northwestern is 10-0 overall (the Tigers are the first District 11 team to earn double-digit wins) and are averaging 4.6 goals per game ahead of Monday’s Colonial League clash against Saucon Valley.
“I’m mostly happy with how we performed offensively,” Hunsicker said. “We’ve struggled to find consistency in our finishing, but we’re creating plenty of chances to score. I’m looking at the glass half full right now.
“We haven’t reached our full potential yet and are still finding our chemistry as a group. But once we fire full throttle, I’m really excited to see how dangerous our offense can be.
The attack is dangerous thanks, in large part, to two high-quality attackers.
Junior Matt Johnson and senior Josh Zellner are a team no opposing defense wants to score. They both passed the 100-point milestone for their careers in a 10-0 rout of Jim Thorpe on September 10. Johnson has scored 15 goals with six assists this season; Zellner has 14 and seven.
“Matt and Josh are both very dangerous forwards, but each brings a slightly different skill set that makes them such a dynamic pair,” Hunsicker said. “Matt, obviously, with his speed and courage to take on defenders, makes other teams adapt and creates game problems. Josh is a little more methodical in his attacking style and is really dangerous from set pieces and playing balls in the air.
The Tigers, defending Colonial League and District 11 champions, entered the season as repeat picks.
They are definitely still that halfway team. But, the Moravian Academy and Southern Lehigh presented them with major challenges last week. Northwestern beat Moravian 3-2 in overtime on Thursday, then edged Southern Lehigh 2-1 on Saturday.
“The sky’s the limit for this team to be honest,” Hunsicker said. “Offensively and collectively as a team, we have so much potential and we’re really well balanced. These kids love the game and love to play the game with each other.
“But the top of the league is very competitive. It looks like it’s shaping up to be a three- or four-team race, and on any given day, one of those top teams could probably make a run and claim the championship title. I hope it will still be us.
It would have been easy during the preseason to eliminate the Palmerton girls from the list of Colonial League contenders.
The Blue Bombers went 8-28 in the league in three seasons from 2017 to 2019. They then went 15-3-1 combined in 2020 and 2021 led by scoring star Brianna Moore, who totaled 111 points as a senior last year.
Palmerton failed to win a league or Class 2A crown from District 11 a season ago.
Minus Moore, one would have expected the Bombers to take a significant step back.
But no, they are better than ever. Palmerton are the last unbeaten side of the Colonial at 8-0 on aggregate after the 4-1 conquest of Bangor on Saturday. The Blue Bombers’ best win is a 2-0 win over Southern Lehigh on Sept. 8.
“It’s been a really fun start to the season,” said coach Dave O’Brien, “and we’re thrilled with how the team has come out of it.
“Brianna was a huge loss and a big part of our success last year. Thankfully we only lost two seniors from our starting XI. experience, including three double-digit goalscorers from a year ago.
The score was no problem for Palmerton.
The Bombers have scored 29 goals in eight outings. Sophomore Nataly Walters paces the offense with 13 goals and an assist. Seniors Emma Martinez and Beth Morgan had nine goals and 10 assists.
Also, defensively, O’Brien’s team was solid conceding only five goals.
“We expect to be in the mix in the Colonial League and District 11 playoffs,” O’Brien said, in his third season. “I think this team has the talent and drive to compete with any team they come up against and we can’t wait to see what the rest of the season has in store for us.”
East Stroudsburg South at Parkland, 7 p.m. Tuesday: The Cavaliers shocked the football galaxy against Nazareth. It’s not that they beat the Blue Eagles; is that they won hands down at 5-1. Coach Daniel Lewis’ team, with Tobi Golab up front, can be very explosive. Parkland, of course, is a constant powerhouse. It would be a signature win for ESS.
Pen Argyl at the Moravian Academy, Wednesday at 4 p.m.: Pen Argyl is preparing, without fanfare or trumpet, a very successful season. The Green Knights opened the season with a quality win over Pine Grove, then went on to earn impressive league triumphs over Notre Dame-GP and Palisades. Moravian Academy are nine-time reigning District 11 champions, determined to begin a meteoric streak.
Easton at Central Catholic, 4 p.m. Tuesday: The Vikings played at Emmaus to a 0-0 draw last week. Don’t expect this one to be aimless for 100 minutes. Easton has firepower with Aminah Baruwa and Kendahl Popp and the Vikettes can counter with a great all-around attack.
Palmerton at Northwestern Lehigh, 6:30 p.m. Wednesday: NW Lehigh is the three-time league champion, but the Tigers showed signs of vulnerability with a 1-0 loss last week to Moravian Academy. That, at this point, makes the undefeated Palmerton the Colonial favorite? This one will tell us a lot about the position of the Blue Bombers.
The PSCA state rankings were released last week, and District 11 is well represented in the state’s initial poll.
Among boys, Emmaus is ranked No. 5 and Parkland ninth in Class 4A; Northwestern Lehigh is third in Class 2A; and Moravian Academy is fourth and Palisades 10th in Class 1A.
Among girls, Parkland is ranked No. 4 and Emmaus seventh in 4A; and Central Catholic is fourth and Northwestern Lehigh seventh in 2A.
Emmaus and Parkland in 4A, and Northwestern in 2A are the only remaining undefeated men’s teams from District 11 entering the week. On the girls’ side, Easton, Emmaüs and Parkland are all undefeated in 4A, while Palmerton remains perfect in 2A.
Saucon Valley sophomore Ava Riehl scored six goals in a 10-3 win over Bangor last week to set a school record for goals in a game. Riehl has 20 goals and six assists in eight games.
The Allen boys come into Tuesday’s game against Whitehall on a winning streak. Coach Jarrad Max’s Canaries, who went 1-16 a year ago, beat Liberty 3-2 on Friday for their second consecutive victory (their first in 15 years against Liberty) and they improved to 3- 5 in total. Junior Baraka Moise scored five goals in total in the two wins.
Michael Blouse is a freelance writer.
1. Emmaus 8-0
2. Park 8-0
3. Northwest Lehigh 10-0
4. Northampton 7-1
5. Central Catholic 5-3
6. Pleasant Valley 5-2-1
7. East Stroudsburg 6-2
8. Nazareth 6-3
9. Argyl Pen 7-1
10. Moravian Academy 5-2
1. Park 7-0
2. Easton 7-0
3. Emmaus 8-0-1
4. Catholic Center 6-1-1
6. Palmerton 8-0
7. Northampton 5-2-1
8. Pleasant Valley 6-2-1
9. Northwest Lehigh 7-2-1
10. South Lehigh 5-3-1
EASTERN PENNSYLVANIA CONFERENCE
Team GOLD, CR
Emmaus 8-0, 8-0
Park 8-0, 8-0
Northampton 7-1, 7-1
East Stroudsburg South 6-2, 6-2
Nazareth 6-3, 5-3
Central Catholic 5-3, 5-3
Whitehall 5-4, 5-3
Pleasant Valley 5-2-1, 4-2-1
Easton 4-3-1, 4-3-1
Freedom 4-4, 4-4
Freedom 3-5, 3-5
Allen 3-5, 2-5
Stroudsburg 2-6, 2-6
Mount Pocono East 3-6, 2-6
Bethlehem Catholic 2-7, 2-6
East Stroudsburg North 2-7, 2-6
Pocono Mountain West 1-7, 1-7
Dieuff 0-9, 0-8
Team GOLD, LR
Northwest Lehigh 10-0, 7-0
Argyl pen 7-1, 5-1
South Lehigh 5-4, 5-1
Palisades 7-2, 5-2
Moravian Academy 5-2, 5-2
Saucon Valley 4-4, 3-2
Notre Dame-GP 5-3, 3-3
Bangor 4-4, 3-3
Salisbury 3-6, 2-4
Catasauqua 3-5-1, 1-4-1
Wilson 2-8, 1-6
North Lehigh 1-5-1, 0-4-1
Palmerton 1-8, 0-6
Notre Dame-ES 0-6
EASTERN PENNSYLVANIA CONFERENCE
Team GOLD, CR
Emmaus 8-0-1, 7-0-1
Easton 7-0, 6-0
Park 7-0, 6-0
Central Catholic 6-1-1, 6-1-1
Nazareth 6-2-1, 5-2-1
Pleasant Valley 6-2-1, 5-2-1
Northampton 5-2-1, 4-2-1
Freedom 3-4-1, 3-3-1
Stroudsburg 3-4-1, 3-3-1
Whitehall 3-4-1, 3-4-1
Bethlehem Catholic 3-5, 3-4
Liberty 2-4-1, 2-4-1
Mount Pocono East 2-6-1, 1-6-1
East Stroudsburg South 1-7, 1-6
Pocono Mountain West 2-6, 2-5
Dieuff 0-7, 0-7
East Stroudsburg North 0-8, 0-7
Team GOLD, LR
Palmerton 8-0, 6-0
North West Lehigh 7-2-1, 5-1-1
South Lehigh 5-3-1, 5-1-1
Notre Dame-GP 6-2, 4-2
North Lehigh 6-3, 4-2
Saucon Valley 5-3, 3-2
Moravian Academy 4-3, 3-2
Palisades 4-4, 3-3
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Argyl pen 3-4, 2-3
Salisbury 4-4, 2-4
Bangor 2-6, 1-4
Catasauqua 1-7, 0-6
Wilson 0-8, 0-7
Notre Dame-ES 2-4