Groff goal helps Tigers to D-11 gold
You can’t plan the heroics that Bailey Groff came up with. All she was trying to do was get the ball into position for one of her teammates to make a play, but she ended up scoring a goal.
Groff’s goal – and another by teammate Kylie Zentz – led Northwestern to a 2-0 win over Allentown Central Catholic in the District 11 Class 2A girls soccer finals. It also sends Northwestern to the PIAA tournament.
Just under six minutes into the game, Northwestern (21-2-0) was awarded a corner and Groff inserted the ball, hoping to put it into a spot where someone could make a play and put Northwestern in front. Instead, she got the ball a little off the mark and it twisted itself toward the top of the goal where goalkeeper Katherine Gill made a leaping grab at the ball. Gill had it for a split second before it went through her hands and into the net.
“I wasn’t planning it,” said Groff. “I meant to just hit it in the box and see what would happen and it went right in.”
Groff nearly put another in from the corner late in the first half and then another in the second half. The third corner she attempted bounced off the crossbar.
“I wasn’t repeating it,” she said. “The shots just kept curving on the next couple corners, and I kept getting close. I was just trying to get it in the box for a good service for my teammates.”
Central Catholic had opportunities, but they were all squelched either by the Northwestern defense or by freshman goalkeeper Naomi Glassberg, who made several big plays. Hanna Hoeing fired a shot on goal 10 minutes into the game and Glassberg deflected it wide of the net. In the second half, Kelsey Rodowicz fired a shot that Glassberg again stepped in front of to stop.
Northwestern allowed just two goals in three games in districts, one of which went to overtime. The Tigers downed Bethlehem Catholic 5-1, Notre Dame (Green Pond) 2-1 in OT and then shutout the Vikettes.
Zentz scored the game’s second goal when she won a 50-50 ball and then beat Gill to the left side for her 21st goal of the season.
The district championship is the second in three seasons for Northwestern and the seventh for Northwestern teams coached by Kelly Bleam.
“It’s awesome,” said Bleam. “I honestly couldn’t be happier for a group of girls who have worked so hard for it and worked as a team. We had no choice but to work as a team on both sides of the ball and they’re an outstanding team.”
Bleam admitted that a string of injuries, which varied in severity, made coaching a little tougher and limited some of the moves that she would have liked to have made at some points in the game. Even through the injuries, the team was able to come through with the win and will look to heal as much as possible before Tuesday’s PIAA opener.
“All in all, all of our players who needed to step up did, even the ones who are battling injuries,” Bleam said. “I didn’t hear a peep out of any of their mouths and they played a lot of minutes with their injuries. I hope they’re all OK. I don’t think that they would have accepted it any other way.”
Northwestern drew Central Columbia as a first-round opponent in states and downed the Blue Jays 2-1 to advance to Saturday’s quarterfinal round where they will play Lake Lehman High School at a site and time to be determined.