NTL BOYS' SOCCER: NEB BOYS HAVE UP-AND-DOWN SEASON IN 2023
(2023-11-14)Northern Tier Sports Report
Northeast Bradford boys’ soccer had an up-and-down year, one in which they nearly made the district playoffs, finishing the season 8-10.
“Overall not quite the year we were aiming for but a solid one with some very good high points,” said coach Scott Merritt. “We were very competitive and not to be taken lightly. We really let a few games turn into losses that shouldn't' have by not doing the things we all know to do, but we also had some very nice highs on the season.”
They opened the season with a 6-2 win over Montgomery, but followed that up with two tough losses to eventual league champs Wellsboro (3-1) and NP-Liberty (4-3).
A win over Troy (3-1) evened their record, but a pair of winnable games turned to losses during their annual tournament put them at 2-4. A loss to Galeton (6-3) saw them fall to 2-5 on the season.
They rebounded with a win over Towanda (5-0), then fell at Wellsboro (6-0). The back and forth continued with a win at Troy (2-0) but then lost to Montoursville (5-0).
They kept their playoff hopes alive with a win over the Knights (5-1), but back to back losses to Galeton (5-2) and Williamson (2-0) dropped them to 5-9.
They likely needed to win out for a playoff berth, and started that final four game stretch strong with a 2-0 win over Sullivan County.
However, they fell at NPL (6-3).
Despite the setback they finished the season strong, with road wins at Meadowbrook Christian (3-0) and a thriller against Athens (1-0), their season highlight.
“For a few years now Andrew (Beers) has been an absolute stellar goalie,” said Merritt. “He works so hard, and really lays it out there, and puts his body on the line when needed. But in previous seasons, even in blow outs, we couldn’t give him a clean sheet. This season ended up with several. There were a few games we were dominate, but he still would have to make a few amazing plays to keep the other team from scoring.”
Another player who made a big impact was Eli Stanton.
“Eli Stanton moved to CB this season, he had unbelievable poise,” Merritt said. “His soccer IQ is top notch and he stepped up his leadership game as well helping call movement positioning and assignments. He also ended up being lightning fast and by stop watch the fastest player on the team.”
His older brother, Josh Stanton, anchored the other end.
“Josh Stanton had a personal goal of getting a hat trick, he had come close in years past but only ended up with two goals in a game and usually several assists,” said Merritt. “This year he had many! He ended up leading the NTL in goals scored as well and was fierce and relentless up top.”
The group says good-bye to five key seniors, who have been a big part of their team’s progress over the last few years.
“Westen Perkins had probably his most productive year yet and finished more runs and shots than ever before,” said Merritt. “Cesar Alvarez was a player that every team worried about and knew where he was and who he was. Andrew Beers was just a fantastic player and I still believe the best individual goalie in the league, and a great team player. We failed him at timse by making mistakes or when we got out of position and shape over the years but he was always still a positive teammate and encourager of others. Josh Stanton was lights out this season, playing through injuries, becoming a great leader, teammate and overall player. Brendon Allen was as stellar as ever, worked hard, played harder and was part of what I believe was the best two CB's in the league.”
They return about 75-percent of their roster next year, but the team will definitely have a different look in 2024.
“They will be very missed, as all seniors are, but these five are special,” Merritt remarked.
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