Dietrich nets pair of goals in shutout win
After Freedom dropped Northwestern from its schedule prior to the start of the season, head coach Lissa Opolsky and the Lady Tigers needed to fill that void. Enter Holy Reedemer from the Wyoming Valley Conference.
While Northwestern came up on the short end of the stick against Holy Reedemer, a 1-0 loss on Friday, the Lady Tigers took a number of positives away from that game. It showed in their Colonial League opener on Tuesday.
Haley Dietrich scored twice, including the first with under eight minutes to play in the opening half, to lift the Lady Tigers (1-0 in Colonial League) to a 2-0 shutout over Salisbury (0-1) at Northwestern High School.
“It was a good showing from us [against Holy Reedemer] even though the result wasn’t the greatest,” Opolsky said. “But I think it prepared us a little bit more for this game.”
Some of the biggest improvements from a year ago have been Northwestern’s ability to master the fundamental skills and share the ball across the entire field. Both were evident against the Lady Falcons.
“It’s been good to see them start to understand concepts of the game and start to execute those on the field,” Opolsky said. “We definitely don’t have it all together yet, but we are taking baby steps towards doing that. No matter who the opponent is we are trying to work on where the ball should be on the field.
“We’re able to pass the ball back to open up some space, and then distribute the ball more in the midfield.”
Dietrich’s first goal was a prime example of that.
After possessing the ball on a Northwestern corner, Dietrich took a look at the Salisbury’s cage and fired past the Lady Falcons’ goalkeeper.
“Coach definitely helps us hold the ball a lot,” Dietrich said. “She is teaching us how to get around the girls. With her building up our confidence with that, I felt confident enough to pull and nail the ball.”
That confidence transitioned into the second half. After an initial Northwestern shot was saved, Dietrich cleaned up the ball in front of the cage to give the Lady Tigers a 2-0 advantage.
“She’s definitely a leader when she can turn it on and get going in the right direction and mentally prepare herself to be a leader,” Opolsky said. “Luckily we have a lot of those people who can do that this year.”
Salisbury had its chances, particularly late in the second half. Following Dietrich’s second score, the Lady Falcons had a corner opportunity that produced one of their five shots on goal in the second half. And while goalkeeper Taylor Page missed the kick save, defender Avery George was at the goal line to keep Salisbury scoreless.
“Last season in junior high, played on the field,” Opolsky said of Page, who finished with five saves in net. “She knew we needed someone to step up, and not only has she done that physically, she has mentally taken on that position to direct everyone no matter who they are.”
After winning just three league games in 2014, the Lady Tigers hope win No. 1 in their season opener keeps the momentum rolling into Catasauqua on Thursday and the remainder of the season.
“I think us starting off with a win, we’re going to feel really good about the next game,” Dietrich said. “I feel we can move forward from this, and this was definitely a learning experience.”