Streaks end, but expect Tigers to be back
Northwestern’s Caleb Danner (23) battles for control of the ball during Thursday’s District 11Class 3A soccer championship game against Saucon Valley. BOB FORD/TIMES NEWS
EMMAUS — All streaks eventually come to an end.
Northwestern head soccer coach Nate Hunsicker just wished it hadn’t happened in the way it did.
Despite a dominant second half in which the Tigers outshot Saucon 12-1, and held a 12-1 advantage in corners, the only stat that mattered when the scoreboard hit zero on Thursday was a 1-0 victory for the Panthers.
It’s a loss that will undoubtedly sting for a team that is accustomed to playing soccer into November.
Northwestern, after playing in each of the past two PIAA Class 3A Championship games, won’t be competing in the state playoffs this season for the first time since 2014. That’s three straight years of state playoff soccer and two state runner-up performances.
But don’t think Northwestern’s dominance on the pitch has come to an end because of the setback.
“I feel bad for the kids,” Hunsicker said. “It’s just a crushing defeat the way the game went on. For the only goal to concede via a PK, and how we were just pounding on the door in the second half, it’s a tough one to swallow.”
Thursday’s 1-0 loss to Saucon Valley in the district title game was another first since 2015. The defeat snapped a 59-game win streak against Colonial League foes, dating back to a non-league loss to Salisbury that season.
It’s a remarkable streak that, although ended, shows just how dominant this program has been over the past four years.
“It’s phenomenal for these senior kids to win four consecutive league titles,” Hunsicker said. “They haven’t experienced a league loss in their entire life. They hadn’t experienced a district loss in their entire life until tonight. They have absolutely nothing to hang their heads about.”
Northwestern’s record over the past four years is an unbelievable 91-6-2 overall. In addition, the Tigers won the past four league championships and prior three district titles under Hunsicker.
Plenty of players have graduated over the years, and pieces have been moved around during Northwestern’s incredible run. One thing that has remained constant is Hunsicker’s guidance at the forefront.
“I thought this was one of our more complete and well-balanced teams,” Hunsicker said. “They worked really hard. They played really well as a unit. Everybody played for each other. Not to say prior teams didn’t, but these guys took it to the eighth degree. You can see that by the tears in the eyes of the underclassmen feeling they let down the upperclassmen.”
Rather than competing for that elusive state championship — seemingly the only thing that’s evaded Northwestern during its incredible run of success — the Tigers will be at home. But make no mistake about it — this run isn’t over just yet.
“No, absolutely not,” Hunsicker said. “We have our league win streak going. We have all of those league titles in a row, and by no means is this over.”