Lehighton tops NW in field hockey title game
Northwestern Lehigh may have had a very sound game plan to face Lehighton in the District 11 field hockey finals, but we’ll never know. Coach Lissa Opolsky had a tough time getting her players to stick to the plan and the result was a 2-0 loss to the Indians. The win gave Lehighton its first district championship since 2010.
The first half ended in a scoreless tie, but Lehighton had dominated most of the action. Just four minutes into the second half, it appeared the Indians had broken the scoreless tie, but the goal was waved off. It took another 17 minutes until someone scored and again it was Lehighton, but the goal was waved off. On the play though, Northwestern was called for a penalty and the Indians were awarded a penalty stroke.
Aleah Nothstein didn’t miss the opportunity and sent the shot past goalie Alena Smargiassi for a 1-0 lead.
With just 2:32 left in the game, Mackenzie Hoats intercepted a pass and made a quick move toward the goal, just to the right of the goal. Hoats put a shot into the right front corner of the cage to put away the victory for Lehighton.
“We didn’t follow our game plan, so by us hitting the ball and staying on our left side of the field, we fed into their game, so we kind of counteracted our own strength at that point,” Opolsky said. “We just couldn’t recover from that. Every timeout we took we talked about following the game plan and every time we went out there, we went against the game plan, so I don’t know if we were ever mentally in it from the start. Their effort was there, it just wasn’t a smart effort.”
Northwestern received two yellow cards in the game, one for not giving five yards and the other for a push. Opolsky said both calls were legitimate. She doubted that the push was intentional, but noted that it was still deserving of a card.
The loss didn’t end the Tigers season, it just gave them a tougher road in the PIAA Tournament. Instead of opening the tournament closer to home, the Lady Tigers had to travel to Wissahickon High School for a first round game against New Hope.
“We’ll regroup and recharge ourselves, get back to practice and work on some of the stuff we didn’t do so well today,” said Opolsky. “We’ll be ready for the next challenge and hopefully, come out with a better result in that one.”