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Tigers win battle of soccer unbeatens

In a showdown of undefeated teams in the Colonial League, Northwestern made a big statement with a 2-0 win over Notre Dame of Green Pond on Monday.

Freshman Jeff Garcia and senior Noah Myers scored the goals for the Tigers to put them at 10-0 in the Colonial League and 14-0 overall this season.

Garcia’s goal came with 16:12 to play in the first half and helped to get Northwestern out of an early game funk that saw them missing on passes and allowing Notre Dame to control much of the play at the Northwestern end of the field. After turning things around, Garcia nailed the first goal of the game to give Northwestern some momentum to build on.

“Jeff Garcia has done a fantastic job,” Northwestern coach Nathan Hunsicker exclaimed. “That was his fifth or sixth goal this year and every one of his goals, I believe, except for one, were the first goal in the game and ultimately wound up being the game-winning goal. He’s been a blessing for us and has great composure for a freshman and I’m looking forward to having him for a few more years.”

Hunsicker referred to Garcia as his “Swiss army knife,” because of his ability to play at a number of positions and have an impact at all of them. For the freshman player, moving around the field is part of what makes him successful.

“There are times when I feel tired at one position, but when I move, it gives me time to regain some energy and kind of regroup a little, so I like moving around,” admitted Garcia, who says that he also likes finding the goal that kick-starts his team. “It’s always good to get that early start and I’m happy when I can be the one to get that. Everyone is looking for that, because it’s good to have an early start, so I guess you could say that I am looking for that quick goal.”

Notre Dame had some early opportunities, but were unable to capitalize on them, thanks in part to goalie Taylor Wanamaker, who made a number of big stops for the Tigers. Before too long, Northwestern started to find more of a controlled passing game and were able to put the pressure back on Notre Dame.

“I think honestly, it was a little bit of nerves and just settling into the match. We knew that we had to play a really solid 80-minutes to come away with a victory today. The biggest thing was just settling down and making appropriate passes and playing within ourselves,” explained Hunsicker.

In the second half, Noah Myers gave the Tigers some insurance when he scored with 27:01 left in the game to make it 2-0 for Northwestern. Myers had a couple of solid shots earlier in the game that were either blocked or wound up just missing the net, but he was able to get one past goalkeeper Alex Ficcara. The win puts the Tigers in good position for both the league and District 11 playoffs.

“They were the only other undefeated team, this puts us in a safe spot at the top,” said Garcia.

TOUGH TURF... Northwestern likes to play a very possession oriented style of soccer, but playing on grass turf that gets used a lot has left the field pretty hard by this point of the season. Hunsicker didn’t use the field conditions as an excuse, but believes it makes it tougher to do certain things. “The field for our style of play is pretty burned out, pretty rock hard at this point in the season,” said Hunsicker. “It doesn’t really play into our possession game the greatest.”

DISTRICT DANDY... The Tigers have long clinched a spot in the District 11 playoffs, but the win should pretty well cement their spot as the top seed in the 3A rankings. With four games left, Northwestern is ahead of Allentown Central Catholic (10-4) for the top spot in the class.

Northwestern’s Andrew Goodolf gets ready to kick the ball during Monday’s Colonial League soccer match with Notre Dame. CHUCK HIXSON/SPECIAL TO THE TIMES NEWS