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It's a family affair at Northwestern

  • It's a family affair at Northwestern
    Copyright 2011
Published September 21. 2011 05:01PM

Not only does the Northwestern boys' soccer team have a great feeder program, it also has a family tradition serving as a great support system as well.

Over the years, there have been a number of brothers that have played varsity ball at the same time for the Tigers' program.

This season, there is an over abundance of siblings who are under the guidance of first-year Northwestern head coach Nate Hunsicker.

The 2001 Tigers have five sets of brothers, including Andrew and Kyle Willis, Jeremy and Brandon Ettl, Benjamin and Cody Gangaware, Logan and Matt Strickland, and Joshua and Leigham Breckenridge.

Hunsicker said it's a such a "neat" thing to see embedded within the program.

"It just kind of shows the reputation of the program and that a lot of the families like to stick to the same sport," Hunsicker said. "Sometimes certain families, some kids play soccer and some play football. But others like to stick with one sport.

"It just shows you the kind of commitment they have to the program."

Seniors Andrew Willis, Jeremy Ettl, Benjamin Gangaware, Logan Strickland and Joshua Breckenridge have all had the opportunity this season to help ease the transition to high school soccer for their younger bothers.

Hunsicker said the family support has made things a little easier on him.

"The older brothers have been able to give their younger siblings a unique first hand experience on what to expect at the varsity level," Hunsicker said. "Since most of them have several years of varsity experience, they can help their younger brothers make the transition to varsity level of competition."

Hunsicker, who also had the opportunity to play with his brother Jacob during his freshman year of high school back in 2000, hopes sophomore Kyle Willis, Brandon Ettl, Matt Strickland, and Leigham Breckenbridge, and freshman Cody Gangaware appreciate the guidance they have at the moment from their older brothers.

"I hope they can appreciate the fact that they all have older brothers on the team," Hunsicker said. "It just kind of helps you fit in more with a sibling around, especially when you were the new guy on the block."

For some of them like Kyle Willis, it's already their second year of varsity ball with their brother around. For others like Brandon Ettl and Leigham Breckenridge, it's their first hack at varsity ball. Meanwhile, Cody Gangaware and Matt Strickland are still playing JV ball to prep them for next season.

While all the brothers are constantly around each other at practice, a few sets of the brothers have actually had the chance to take the varsity field together. Hunsicker said there has been no "sibling rivalry" on either the practice field or during games. As a matter of fact, it has been exactly the opposite.

"They are there to support each other," Hunsicker said. "And they also motivate each other even more when they step on the field. So it's more of a positive thing than a negative thing having a brother around."

Having so many brothers on this year's team has help bring back a fond memory for Hunsicker from when he played with his brother in 2000.

"When my brother was a senior, we won districts that year," Hunsicker said. "And, that was really neat to be able to share that with my brother. I'm hoping that we can do something similar with these guys this year."


THREE, FOUR, FIVE ..... Tamaqua's Kailee Rottet, Northern Lehigh's Channing Shiffert and Jim Thorpe's Chelsea Smelas all put up big scoring numbers in soccer during the last week.

Three was Rottet's number as she managed to score two sets of hat tricks over the last fews days. Last Thursday, the junior Blue Raiders accounted for three goals and two assists in a 7-2 win over Jim Thorpe. And, on Monday, Rottett hit for three more in a close 3-2 victory over Natvity.

Four was Shiffert's number. Last Wednesday, the senior paced Northern Lehigh's offensive with four goals and two assists in a 8-1 victory over Wilson.

Five was Smelas' number. On Saturday, the Olympian senior help spark Jim Thorpe to a 9-2 win over Weatherly.


HOCKEY HERO ..... Soccer players weren't the only ones to record hat tricks last week.

On Monday, Northwestern field hockey player Tiff Gumina scored three times.

Teammate Samantha Partington just missed out on a hat trick with two goals and an assist in the 7-0 victory over Wilson.


IN A LEAGUE OF THEIR OWN ..... The Marian girls' golf team doesn't have a league to play in, but the Fillies are keeping themselves by taking part in several several tournaments over the course of the fall sports season.

The Fillies are forced to play all of their matches against out of the area teams since other Schuylkill League area schools do not sport a girls golf program. Most of the time a single open tournament where any individual or team may enter to compete may contain as many as six teams.

In recent weeks, the Fillies have participated in tournaments at Scranton Municipal Golf Course and Mountain Valley Golf Course.

The Fillies were led by the play of Stephanie Peel, Maddy Gilmartin, Arianna Srinivasan, Danielle Freed, Monica Wasik and Alyssa Cominsky at the varsity level. Amanda Srinivasan, Jen Jorden, Emily Fannick, Tierney Seufer, Alyssa Wagner, and Brandes Yenchick have paced the JV program.


ACES ..... The Mountain Valley Conference Girls Tennis tournament will take place tomorrow at the Pleasant Valley Middle School tennis courts. The finals will take place at approximately around 4 p.m. The rain date for the tournament is set for Friday, Sept. 30 at noon.


DIGGING PINK ..... This fall, thousands of teams from around the country will be participating in The Side-Out Foundation's Dig Pink® National Breast Cancer Awareness Rally. Middle school, high school and college teams will promote breast health education in the community as well as raise funds to further research.

Dig Pink events give spectators the opportunity to become involved by making donations to the cause and by pinking out the events (i.e. donning pink to show their support). The Weatherly girls' volleyball team will entertain Jim Thorpe on October 10 at 6 p.m. as part of the festivities. Admissions will be $2 for those wearing pink on the night of the contest.

Dig Pink event t-shirts will be sold through Jessica Adamczyk at the high school, and at the Oct. 10 game. Before, during and after the volleyball match there will be many special events such as a bake sale, basket auction, ball raffle and serving game. The proceeds from all donations will benefit the Side-Out Foundation, a national non-profit organization located in the Washington, D.C. area.

For more information about the event, contact Jessica Adamczyk at

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