The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

October 9, 2013

Jon Gerardi's high school soccer column: Northumberland Christian's Newbury joins century club


Daily Item

---- — Every senior athlete wants to make his or her final year a memorable one.

Maybe they're chasing a record or it's capturing that elusive district title that always eluded them.

For some, it's capturing a milestone that puts them into a special class all by themselves.

It was sometime probably early in the week that Northumberland Christian coach Jonathan Rees finally told Zach Newbury he was closing in on 100 career goals.

It wasn't necessarily a surprise -- it surely didn't sneak up on anyone -- but Rees didn't want it to become a huge distraction for Newbury.

So once he scored his 97th career goal, Rees let him know so that he could make sure his parents could attend the game when he'd hit the 100 career milestone.

Coming into the year, Newbury stood at 80 career goals and many -- including Rees and Newbury -- definitely knew he would make a run at it.

"It seemed extremely likely Zach would get his 100th goal sometime this year. We didn't want it to be a distraction, so we didn't tell Zach exactly how many he needed until he was within three," Rees said.

Standing at 98 career goals as he played Walnut Street Christian two Fridays ago, the senior Warrior made it a night to remember for all those in attendance as he netted No. 100 with a nice hat trick in a 6-0 shutout win.

For Newbury, he stands in some unusual company as he's one of just two Northumberland Christian players to have 100 career goals, joining Ron Romine (2006), who tallied 133.

"It has been such a privilege to be Zach's coach. Not only does he do so many things so well on the soccer field, he is such a great guy to have around. Even though he's been the leading scorer in the league for three straight years, he's so humble," Rees said. "It seems like a lot of athletes today let their success go to their head and look down on others, or try to act cool. Zach's always just been himself on and off the field with his quiet personality, and he's very respectful of his teammates, coaches, opponents and officials. I was so proud of Zach when he scored his 100th (goal) because of what kind of person he is and because of the way he has carried himself over the years."

Anyone who knows Newbury knows that he's a relatively quiet kid who doesn't get too riled up. So as the goals started adding up and the countdown to 100 started getting smaller and smaller, some people may have gotten a little anxious to see him hit the mark.

Newbury himself was a bit anxious as well, as he had two games prior to hitting the century mark where he was held scoreless. And while Newbury was nervous due to the two scoreless games, Rees was a little nervous as well, but it was due to what has happened in the past.

Rees remembered when Cody Conklin had a season-ending injury when he was closing in on the century mark, and he didn't want that to happen to a great student-athlete like Newbury.

"I was praying that Zach would be able to stay healthy. It is such a remarkable achievement, and he's scored so many goals in tight games for us over the years that it has been enjoyable to reflect on some of his great moments in his career," Rees said.

Whether or not Newbury helps Northumberland Christian claim a repeat ACAA title this year remains to be seen, but like his coach, Newbury will be able to reflect on some of those great moments as well.

Like recording that 100th career goal as a senior.

That's not a bad way to end a scholastic career.

n Jon Gerardi covers high school soccer for The Daily Item. Email comments to jgerardi@dailyitem.com or follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/JonGerardi.