By Adam Yoder
NAPPANEE – When you help lead your squad to its greatest season in program history, end-up the all-time leading goal scorer in program history, earn a plethora of individual awards, and commit to playing at the collegiate level…the only logical next step is the InkFreeNews Top Ten athletes of 2020-21 list.
OK, maybe that’s a stretch. However, ‘stretch’ is what Andre De Freitas of NorthWood boys soccer did to most opposing defenses this past season.
The graduating senior totaled 32 goals on only 69 shots on goal in the historic season for departing coach Brad Duerksen and the Panthers.
He wasn’t just a scorer, either. De Freitas added 15 total assists on the season, notching multiple assists in four different matches. He dished out four versus Elkhart Christian, a 5-0 Panther victory in early September.
De Freitas notched multiple goals in seven matches (Lakeland twice, Bremen, Jimtown, Mishawaka, Bethany Christian and John Glenn). Six out of those seven instances resulted in hat tricks, as well.
The senior’s most serious damage came at the expense of the Lakeland Lakers. Perhaps no other opponent will be happier to see De Freitas graduate, as he piled up four goals in the regular season versus the squad from LaGrange, and he added a whopping FIVE goals in the sectional opener for the Panthers.
In Northern Lakes Conference play, De Freitas totaled 13 points on five goals and three assists, while being named to the All-NLC First team along with three more of his teammates (Sebastian Guillen, Andrew Graber, and Chase Duerksen).
The Panthers finished in a tie for third as a team in the always-tough NLC boys soccer gauntlet with a record of 3-2-2 on their way to the program record for wins and a 15-4-3 overall record.
The tournament run would be one of unbridled job, some magic and just plain heartbreak for De Freitas and the Panthers. They earned a sectional title, winning three matches by a combined total of 13-1. They won their first ever regional championship for the program in part on a header by Duerksen (yes, the coach’s son), and they played toe-to-toe with one of the state’s all-time soccer powers, Fort Wayne Canterbury. After a tie through overtime, the Panthers eventually fell on penalty kicks (by a single kick) to end the season for De Freitas and his senior teammates.
The new marks had been set for the Panthers, though, and De Freitas was the catalyst.
After the season, the Indiana Soccer Coaches Association named the senior to their All-District First Team which he parlayed into a Second Team appearance on the All-State list.
De Freitas has committed to play in the NAIA at Bethel University next season for head coach Thiago Pinto, the Pilots an NCCAA national runner-up last season.