By Mike Deak
NAPPANEE – Andrew Graber has made a habit of saying ‘not today!’ Goshen College is giving the NorthWood senior a chance tor a brighter tomorrow.
The senior goalkeeper for the regional champion Panthers announced he is taking the next step and signing with Goshen College to continue his soccer and academic career.
Graber has been a stone wall in between the pipes for the Panthers. As a senior, he recorded eight clean slates, including sparkling performances in a scoreless tie versus Goshen, and back-to-back shutouts in the sectional title run against West Noble and Angola. Graber also didn’t allow a goal in regulation or overtime in the semi-state contest against Fort Wayne Canterbury, perhaps his finest outing of his career.
Graber helped NorthWood to a 15-4-3 mark in 2020 and the team’s first semi-state appearance. Graber was a two-year starter and three-year varsity performer in net for Brad Duerksen’s Panthers, which won 36 matches in those three seasons.
“Andrew’s confidence grew with every game he played last season,” Duerksen said. “He came up with so many incredible saves throughout the season, and he was a catalyst for our sectional and regional championship runs. Our defense and entire team had full confidence in Graber’s ability in goal.
“I give full credit for Andrew’s development over the past 6-7 years to our goalkeeper coach Kyle Dijkstra,” continued Duerksen. “Kyle played goalkeeper for me at NorthWood, and Kyle has worked with Andrew since middle school when he played for our Pumas travel team. Watching Andrew grow as a keeper over the past several years has been amazing. Through Kyle’s help, Andrew has become one of NorthWood’s best keepers in our program’s history. Andrew’s greatest asset is reading the game in front of him and being able to react accordingly.
“We are all excited to see Andrew at the next level. There is no doubt in our minds that Andrew will continue to develop at the collegiate level. He has a very determined work ethic and is willing to put the work in to get even better.”
Graber will continue on as a Maple Leaf, who is led by Victor Newburg. Graber will work exclusively with goalkeepers coach Giovanni Lopez. The Leafs played a limited fall 2020 schedule, going 0-5-3, but will reconvene this spring for a modified calendar.