Field hockey ends season in D11 playoffs
A quick score is often a team’s best friend
Saucon Valley’s Megan Hashagen scored just 40 seconds into the game and the Panthers held off the second-half push from Northwestern for a 2-1 win in the District 11 Class A field hockey quarterfinal last week.
“We talked about that,” said Saucon Valley head coach Sarah Hawk. “We wanted to get on top right away. We wanted to score early and often. The last time we played them we lost 2-1. We just talked about other teams that we lost to before and we came back and played really well against.”
It was all Saucon in the first half, as Helen Kreschollek added another goal before intermission. But the Tigers came roaring out of the break.
“We started to get momentum after they scored their second goal,” said Northwestern head coach Lissa Opolsky. “We were kind of like a deer in headlights when it first started. As soon as we were able to shake that off, we were able to execute the game plan and stick with it.”
The Tigers earned four corners within the first eight minutes of the second half, but came up empty. After three more corners, and a lot of action in the Panthers’ box, Sydney Derr finally found the back of the net to make the score 2-1.
“We talked about just going into super-defensive mode,” Hawk said. “I actually pulled one of my forwards at the end and put in an extra defender. I knew they were on their surge and I wanted to prevent anything bad from happening. They’re fast. They keep their sticks down and move the ball. I like that they cross the field. They have several very skilled players that were able to control the ball.”
Saucon threatened once more at the 4:40 mark with a corner, but the Northwestern defense came through to keep the score the same.
“It’s an attribute to the girls on the team that they can put that stuff behind them and keep moving forward,” said Opolsky. “We left feeling not so bad about it, because we knew everything was left out there. Sometimes the ball just doesn’t go in the cage.”
The game didn’t end before one last Northwestern flurry, but the Tigers couldn’t punch the ticket to even it up.
“They (Saucon Valley) won on the scoreboard, have a great team and will have some momentum going forward, but it’s the small wins that occurred on the field for that half,” Opolsky added.
Hawk said that Northwestern is fast, and Opolsky agreed with the assessment. “Sometimes we rely on it a little bit too much and we just end up sending balls straight up the field all the time. But today they had a good balance of trying to get the ball up the field and moving forward.”
The Tigers’ 2017 campaign is over, but Opolsky said they’re already looking forward to next season.
“There’s a core group of kids who are ready to step in and play,” she said. “We’re finally building the program back to what it used to be. They’re all ready to play in their club and indoor seasons. We have depth and that’s exciting. As much as we don’t want to end the season, we can look forward and there are 10 other kids waiting to play.”