Tigers advance to semifinals
nancy scholz/special to the times news Northwestern's Brandon Herb challenges Blue Mountain's Fritz Miller (13) for control of the ball.
Twice the Tigers built a two-goal lead. Both times Blue Mountain responded with goals to keep the District 11 Class AA boys soccer game close.
Finally, with just 3:15 left Northwetsern's Kyle Willis played a cross to teammate Boston Furjanic, who hammered it home for a 4-2 lead that would stand as the final score.
The No. 2 seed Tigers (15-3-1) advance to Tuesday's semifinal where they will meet No. 6 seed Allentown Central Catholic, which beat Salisbury, 2-1 yesterday. Blue Mountain (11-8) ends its season with the loss.
"Every time they answered us we answered them right back," said Northwestern head coach Nate Hunsicker. "It was one of those games that we had to get the lead, we had to stay ahead and maintain that. We did a good job of that."
Both teams went scoreless for the first 37 minutes of the game. But Willis got the Tigers on the board with 2:36 left in the first half when Furjanic played a through ball from midfield. Willis, who had beaten his man, took the pass and rifled a shot from about 20 yards out.
Eagles goal keeper Jake Gillespie got a hand on the ball, but couldn't stop it from slipping into the net.
"That was a great through ball," said Willis. "It was huge [to take the lead first]. I was lucky it was me. It could have been anybody with how many chances we had.
"We wanted to do it earlier in the game, but that was important that we went into the half up one goal. We werecalmer going into the second half. Maybe too relaxed."
The Tigers outshot Blue Mountain 9-0 in the first half and had a 7-2 advantage in corners.
Northwestern earned three corners in the first 15 minutes of the second half and made the third one pay off. Brandon Ettl sent the ball from the corner into the pack in front of the goal. It deflected off a Blue Mountain player for an own goal, giving the Tigers a 2-0 lead with 23:59 left in the game.
Blue Mountain's Tristan Coello closed the margin back to one with a goal less than two minutes later.
The Tigers made it 3-1 when Willis was fouled in the box and converted the penalty kick with 19:27 left in the game.
Blue Mountain still wouldn't go away. Brayant Peuberth nailed a shot from 30 yards out that got past Tiger keeper Kyle Snyder to make it 3-2 with 17:11 remaining.
The Tigers, which finished with 16 shots on goal, kept the pressure on. They came up empty on four corner kicks with under nine minutes left, but in the 76th minute, Willis found Furjanic for the goal that sealed the win.
"I made the run to the corner," said Willis. "Brandon Ettl played a great ball to the corner. Before I got the ball I saw Boston coming in and I just played it right in front of him."
"He played a great ball across the middle," said Furjanic. "I saw the ball skip in my direction. I took a shot and I scored.
"I'm glad that every time they scored we came back with another goal, kept them on their heels the entire game."