Girls soccer earns first-round bye in CL
The Lady Tiger soccer team had a six-game winning streak snapped by Liberty (9-8-0 overall, 7-8-0 EPC) on Saturday before bouncing right back with a win over Catasauqua (5-10-1 overall, 5-8-0 Colonial) in its season finale, finishing the season at 16-2-0 overall and 11-1-0 in Colonial League action.
The win against Catasauqua locked Northwestern into the number-two spot in the league playoffs, giving them a first-round bye.
“The season went pretty much how we expected that it would go for us,” said coach Kelly Bleam. “The girls worked very hard for us and we played well together as a team, which led to us having a lot of success.”
Northwestern closed out the season with a 4-0 win at Catasauqua with Kayla Bardonner, Katie Browning, Jenna Lowthert and Kylie Zentz scoring goals in the win. The 1-0 loss to Liberty was the only time all season that Northwestern was shut out by an opponent, while the shutout win against Catty was the eighth shutout of the season for the Tigers.
With the loss of Sara Hathaway and Maggie Motolese to graduation, offense was the big question mark coming into the season. Zentz and Sophia Motolese picked up some of the slack in the goal scoring department and the Tigers were able to spread the wealth to find other goals. They also toughened up on the defensive side of the field this season.
Now comes the real test with the postseason as they look for both a Colonial League and District 11 title. The major obstacle in league playoffs will be number-one seed Southern Lehigh (11-3-2, 9-0-1), who beat Northwestern 2-1 during the regular season.
“They’re always tough and you always know that you’re going to have to find a way past them,” said Bleam. “For us to have success in the postseason, we’re going to need to keep playing like a team. When our girls all pull together, I think we can beat anybody out there.”
The Lady Spartans are only a concern for Northwestern in the Colonial League playoffs, since the two schools are in different classifications in District 11 play.
Last season, Northwestern came into league playoffs as the number-three seed and lost to Palisades in the semifinals. The Tigers left the district playoffs early in shocking fashion when eighth-seeded Notre Dame (Green Pond) beat them in the opening round in a 5-4 game. Northwestern will look to make up for those losses in this year’s postseason.
“We definitely learned what can happen when you come in and aren’t playing your best soccer,” Bleam said. “This time around, we’ve been playing well and I think we have a different mindset regarding what we have to do and how we have to play. It’s all about that team approach. That’s what it’s going to come down to for us.”