NTL BOYS SOCCER: NP-LIBERTY TAKES STEP FORWARD WITH 10-WIN SEASON
(2023-11-12)Northern Tier West Sports Report
LIBERTY — North Penn-Liberty boys soccer Head Coach Matt Grinnell and the Mounties’ off-season work led to their best season in a long while and included 10 wins and a career milestone for senior captain Zack Wilcox.
Grinnell talked during the preseason about the increase in time that the Mounties’ spent working out in the offseason .. including a team camp that Grinnell said he hoped would allow the boys to hit the ground running on Day One of preseason.
The Mounties responded by jumping out to a 7-2 record, which included a pair of wins over a Galeton team that handed then-league leader Williamson their first loss of the season, and a 2-1 loss to Williamson that, had the game not been at a tournament, would have been called a 1-1 tie after the second scoreless overtime period. Williamson won the shootout 5-4 to get the win.
After a loss to perennial-contender Athens evened their record at 2-2, the Mounties went on a five game winning streak, topping Troy, Northeast Bradford, Towanda, Northern Potter and Montgomery by a combined score of 22-8.
Nine of those 22 goals during the streak came from leading scorer, junior Brady Stetter, who finished the season with 21 goals, including a pair of hat-tricks and four two-goal games. With a season left to play, Stetter has 43 career goals.
Senior Zack Wilcox scored 18 goals, including a hat trick and three games with two scores. The captain had a “hand” in 40 of North Penn-Liberty’s 55 goals on the season as he had 22 assists, including the 50th of his Mountie career.
Wilcox had four helpers and a goal in NPL’s 6-1 win over Northern Potter and had a hat trick of assists twice .. including in the same game against NEB that he had three goals.
A second, 2-1 loss to Williamson stopped the Mounties’ win streak at five games and started a four game skid that included losses to league-champ Wellsboro, Athens and Muncy. They’d go 3-2 the rest of the way to finish the regular season with a 10-8 record.
Grinnell was unaware of when exactly the Mounties would have last won 10 games in a season but believes it could have been the 2005 or 2006 season. Liberty went 6-12 last season, 8-9 in '21, 7-6 in '20 and 4-11 in 2019.
The Mounties will graduate a quartet of players .. Wilcox, Carter Grinnell, Corey Smith and Trent Dawson.
Carter Grinnell took over in net for sophomore Deacon Valentine when the starting keeper was injured six games into the season. Valentine had played 390 minutes and had a 2.667 goals-against-average with 28 saves, while Grinnell played 1059 minutes in goal and had 123 saves with a 2.871 GAA.
Stetter and Wilcox were helped out offensively by junior Tate Strange (7 G, 9 A), junior Aiden Wheeland (6 G, 6 A) and sophomore Brody Grinnell (2 G, 3 A), while the defense was led by Grinnell, junior Louis Mercantino, Dawson, Smith, junior Cedric Miller and sophomores George and Peter Bishop.
The Mounties qualified for the District 4 playoffs as the No. 11 seed, falling 6-0 to No. 6 seed Montoursville to end their season.
Next season, Coach Grinnell should welcome back an experienced group of players, including current juniors Mercantino, Asher York, Wheeland, Stetter, Austin Andrews, Strange, Miller and Riley Dunn, as well as current sophomores Valentine, Brody Grinnell, George and Peter Bishop, Truman Laudenslager, Micah Boufford, Bryce Kent and Ryan Blackwell and freshmen Parker Jackson, Jonathan Kieser, Spencer Winters, Kolton Alexander, Jacob Stewart and Silas Boiywo.
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