The Northwestern girls basketball team dropped its first two games of the season, falling to Whitehall 25-24 before getting drubbed by Allen 66-37. The two losses put the Tigers in a bad spot as they faced three more games in four days before they had a break in the schedule. Instead of hanging their collective heads and letting the season slip away, they went to work on the one thing that has led them to three straight wins: fundamentals.
The Northwestern soccer program took a huge step forward in 2015 when it won for the first time ever in the PIAA tournament and wound up advancing to the semifinals before bowing out.
This season, the Tigers moved swiftly through to the state finals where they ran into nationally-ranked Lower Dauphin (28-0), who downed the Tigers 3-0 to deny Northwestern their first state championship.
In a game that matched two teams that just missed district playoff berths, the Blue Mountain Eagles earned the Eastern Conference 4A Championship with a 51-30 win over Northwestern last Friday at Blue Mountain High School.
The Tigers were looking for their second Eastern Conference title in the last five years after falling just shy of playing in the District 11 tournament this season.
Moravian Academy controlled the game early against Northwestern in the Class A field hockey semifinals, but Northwestern regrouped and got back into the game. However, the top-seeded Lions were too much for the Tigers, as Moravian moved on to the finals with a 6-1 win over Northwestern.
Northwestern gave up five quick corners, but kept Moravian Academy from capitalizing on them. Many of Northwestern’s early passes seemed to be picked off by opposing players early in the game, as they struggled to keep the ball away from the front of their net.
When all was said and done for the Northwestern football team, it wasn’t quite where it wanted to be at the end of the 2016 football season.
The Tigers’ hopes of making districts were already gone coming into the season finale against Catasauqua, but with a 48-20 win, they not only salvaged a .500 season, but found themselves set to play Blue Mountain for the Eastern Conference Championship next week.
Northwestern opened the season with a number of young players replacing graduating seniors and nobody was quite sure what to expect. While there have been some rough spots, the Tigers have seen some of the young players develop well in their first full varsity season as starters, leaving things in good shape moving forward.
Sometimes, one just has to hand it to the other team. That’s what Northwestern had to do after losing 21-14 to rival Northern Lehigh in Bo and Brett’s Mountain Road Rumble last Friday.
Unfortunately for the Tigers, they also had to hand over the accompanying trophy that goes to the winner of the rivalry game and has been in the Northwestern trophy case for three straight years.
If you’re an Army or Navy fan, your season hinges on what you do against the other team in the classic rivalry. Same for Lehigh and Lafayette.
Your team can have the best of seasons, but it’s all for naught if you lose to your perennial rival. Much is the same for the Northwestern and Northern Lehigh rivalry, which has its annual installment this Friday night at Tiger Stadium.
This year’s edition is even more special for the Northwestern seniors, as they look to become the first class in a long time to win the rivalry in all four years of their high school career.
Northwestern’s second-half troubles continued against Southern Lehigh last Friday when the Spartans came New Tripoli and beat the Tigers 21-8.
Like other recent games, Northwestern got off to a fast start when Tyler Slifer recovered a muffed punt to set up a first-and-10 at the Spartans’ 16-yard line. Northwestern went for the two-point conversion and Deven Bollinger hit Caleb Clymer in the end zone to put the Tigers up 8-0 with 4:57 left in the first quarter.
No matter what situation his team is in, Josh Snyder coaches his players to look at the next game on the schedule as the biggest game on the schedule. This week is the perfect example why.
Snyder doesn’t want his team looking back at its win over previously undefeated Saucon Valley, because that win won’t mean nearly as much if Bangor were to upset the Tigers Friday night.