Zentz goals help NW reach finals
Kylie Zentz’s execution was almost as effortless as her explanation.
The Northwestern junior found an opening. And she wasn’t about to miss. Simple as that.
Zentz’s overtime goal lifted the Tigers past Notre Dame Green Pond 2-1 on Tuesday in the District 11 Class 2A semifinals. It was the second straight playoff game in which Zentz came up goal for the Tigers.
“I thought the opportunity was there and the goal was wide open,” said Zentz. “All I needed to do was kick it in.”
Tuesday’s game-winning goal came on the heels of a hat trick for Zentz in Northwestern’s 5-1 win over Bethlehem Catholic in the district quarterfinals.
The top-seeded Tigers will face No. 2 seed Allentown Central Catholic in Thursday’s final.
“Kylie is a great finisher,” said Northwestern head coach Kelly Bleam. “She hunts the ball down in the attacking part of the field. A ball could be played just about anywhere, and she will just hunt the ball down; she will find it, and she will at least make a play at finishing it.
“I think it’s a great confidence booster for her, and the team, to see that we can get down and things can go wrong, but we can bounce back from it. I’m really proud of them.”
The goal came after the fourth-seeded Crusaders tied it on Helina Macchia’s penalty kick with eight seconds left in regulation.
But the Tigers, coming off a run to the Colonial League title, didn’t get rattled, taking back momentum in the first 15-minute overtime period before Jenna Lowthert and Zentz connected for the game-winner.
“I think it’s just a demonstration of who this team is and what this team is,” said Bleam. “I just commented to them how hard it is to bounce back from that, and I wasn’t sure going into the overtime that they were emotionally going to bounce back from that.
“And that’s all we talked about between the end of the game and getting back out there to start overtime, is to just pick up your heads, pick up your hearts. We’re a good team, and were doing a lot of good things. And I’m incredibly proud of them.”
After a scoreless first half, Northwestern took a 1-0 lead on an own goal following a corner kick with 20:30 to play in regulation.
“The thing about an own goal is that it doesn’t happen without pressure,” said Bleam. “They were under a lot of pressure for a long time, and we kind of talk about that as forcing an error. Kayla (Bardonner) made a great ball, and the girl tried to defend it as best she could, but it was a good shot.”
And it held until Macchia drove the ball into the back of the net to keep Notre Dame’s hopes alive.
On two occasions in the second half the Tigers played balls in that looked destined to find the back of the back of the net, only to hit the post and the crossbar to keep the game scoreless.
“We just had to keep our heads up,” said Lowthert. “A positive attitude means everything. Going into the game, we knew that they were going to come out strong, but so did we. We came out and did what we needed to do.”
In last Thursday’s district quarterfinal win over Bethlehem Catholic, Zentz had three goals in a 5-1 Tiger victory.
She scored both of her team’s first-half goals for a 2-0 lead at intermission and then added another in the second half.
Kayla Bardonner had a goal and an assist in the wine, while Jillian Fink also scored for Northwestern. Lexi Bleam and Olivia Motolese had assists in the win.