By Adam Yoder
NAPPANEE – After back-to-back draws versus perennial Northern Lakes Conference heavyweights Warsaw and Goshen last week, the NorthWood boys soccer team was looking to get back in the conference win column on Tuesday versus Mishawaka.
They did so in commanding fashion by overwhelming the Cavemen by a score of 11-1 on the pitch at Wellfield Park in Nappanee.
After an 11-0 blanking of Jimtown on Saturday, the Panthers ran their two-game goal total to 22 with their scoring onslaught against Mishawaka.
Early action saw the Panthers start much like they did on Saturday versus Jimtown. The talented squad looked like a team that knew they were the heavy favorites and wanted it just a little too much in the beginning rather than letting the action come as it may.
The Panthers were impatient up front and a step slow in the back. Panther head coach Brad Duerksen, a Mishawaka graduate, said, about the start, “We’re trying to get them to play one-two touch and we just got too direct, early. We just wanted to get the ball wide and play how we normally do.”
“Tonight, just like Saturday, they knew they were the better team. We lacked a little focus at the beginning of both games. Once we got everyone settled down, we were fine.”
A pair of hat tricks from seniors Sebastian Guillen (to go with three assists) and Andre De Freitas provided all the fire power needed to overwhelm the Cavemen. Guillen nailed shots at the 5th, 39th (penalty kick), and 41st minute marks while De Freitas continued his torrid pace on the season at the 17th, 25th, and 52nd marks.
De Freitas’ season goal total now stands at 17, and his classmate, Guillen, is only two behind at 15.
First half goals from seniors Chandler Bontrager (27th) and Ryne Flickinger (33rd) helped push the lead to 6-0 at the intermission.
Guillen’s third goal and a quick follow up goal by Kayden Newcomer (42nd) ballooned the lead to 8-0. Newcomer added two assists as well, with one coming on a corner kick in the second half.
The Panthers totaled 14 corner kicks on the night and had the luxury of resting some of its starters in the last 20 minutes of the game but still saw freshman Carlos Alvarez (67th) and sophomore Andrew Myers (71st) notch goals as well.
Cavemen senior Joaquin DeVries snuck one past the JV goalie, Trace Roa, at the 79th minute to close out all scoring.
As they enter the stretch run, Duerksen is most excited about the upcoming schedule that includes ISCA Class 2-A No. 5 Mishawaka Marian, the current NLC leader Plymouth, a John Glenn team that was previously a top-20 team, and the always solid Bethany Christian Bruins.
“This schedule is going to be good for us going into the sectional. Its going challenge us for sure.”
In addition to the always strong NLC boys soccer gauntlet, the Panthers have played and beaten defending 3-A state champion Zionsville. They fell victim to the 1-A title holders, Argos Dragons, a few hours after the win over the Eagles.
“This is the hardest schedule we’ve ever had,” added Duerksen. “Last year, we fell short in the sectional. We decided that we were going to beef up the schedule and make sure we’re ready when sectionals come around,”
NorthWood improved to 7-2-3 overall (2-1-3 in the NLC) with the victory. The Cavemen’s lone win came back on August 15th in a 5-1 win over New Prairie, and the loss Tuesday night sends them to 1-7 overall and 0-5 in the NLC.
The No. 8-ranked Panthers head to Marian Thursday night in a clash of the highest-ranked teams in the class in the area.