Tuesday undoubtedly would be the biggest test of the young season for the Northwestern volleyball team as it hit the road against Southern Lehigh.
The scoreboard may not have reflected a win for the Lady Tigers, but head coach Lexi Ashburne is aware that her team can compete with the area’s best.
Southern Lehigh used an 11-0 spurt to put away the first set en route to its 3-0 win over Northwestern. While the Lady Tigers (3-2) competed and hung with the Spartans late in the second set, Southern Lehigh (3-2) earned the victory in straight sets—25-10, 25-16, 25-14.
Out of the 24 teams playing the Lehigh Valley Summer Soccer League across both groups, Northwestern was one of the final two teams standing. And if not for a penalty-kick goal, the Tigers, known as New Triploli Bank FC in the summer league, might have been the squad that ended July hoisting the trophy.
Instead, Hornets Gold (Emmaus) defeated New Tripoli Bank on Wednesday, July 26, for the LVSSL championship. A penalty kick was the deciding factor for the Tigers, who lost just two games all summer.
Having a player you can plug into multiple spots in a lineup is a blessing most coaches aren’t fortunate enough to have. Northwestern incoming senior Abby Chisdak might be the prototypical athlete for that role.
During last school year, Chisdak’s coaches utilized her in a number of different positions. Soccer head coach Kelly Bleam shifted her between defense and the midfield/forward area. Chris Deutsch, the basketball head coach, was able to use her as a guard or forward depending on matchups.
The Northwestern boys’ basketball team won its opening game of the SportsFest A-Town Throwdown tournament last week. And the team was on its way to a second win on Saturday, a victory that would have at least kept the Tigers’ hopes of a Sunday berth alive.
Instead, it was their kryptonite that not only cost the Tigers Saturday’s game against Morris Hills, but also ended any shot of an appearance on the final day.
Northwestern, which led 16-14 against Morris Hills in the first half, saw that lead shrink to a 24-16 deficit minutes later.
The goal for most teams is to make it to Sunday of the annual SportsFest A-Town Throwdown basketball tournament. More games means more of an opportunity for coaches to evaluate their team’s positive and negatives throughout the summer.
Head coach Chris Deutsch and the Northwestern girls hoops team didn’t get off on the best foot when it opened play on Thursday. However, it ended with an impressive showing from the Lady Tigers.
The Northwestern boys soccer team entered last fall’s season with a daunting task—replacing the program’s single-season goal-scoring leader in JD Haaf. All Northwestern did was follow up that departure with a 24-1-1 record, league and district titles and a return trip to the state tournament, where the Tigers advanced to the PIAA Class 3A title game.
Now, over eight months later, Northwestern suddenly finds itself in a similar setting during summer league play.
Some Northwestern Lehigh High School graduates contributed to college athletic teams in the past spring season.
Brady Mengel, a freshman at Mansfield University, started in 48 of the baseball team’s 49 games this past spring. He batted .206 for the Mounties, scoring 16 runs and knocking in 13 more. Playing second base, Mengel recorded a .967 fielding percentage and helped turn 25 double plays.
Head coach Billy Hallman lost both scoring and leadership from last year’s Northwestern boys basketball team that nearly made the district tournament. So, the summer has been a transition period for both those areas for the upcoming season.
Northwestern competed in the inaugural Cedar Beach Basketball Showcase last weekend, which essentially replaced the Stellar Construction tournament in recent years. His Tigers team may have had a quick exit with two losses, but he was pleased with the way they competed against two East Penn Conference teams.
The Northwestern Middle School softball team took the field for 12 games this season. And 12 times the Lady Tigers walked off as victors.
Led by a group of six returners, including four starters from a 2016 team that finished 14-2 a year ago, Northwestern went a perfect 13-0 under head coach Heather Hartman this past spring.
It continued a successful trend after the Lady Tigers’ accomplishments last year in their inaugural season playing at the junior high level.
Northwestern softball head coach Josh Zimmerman thought his Lady Tigers would need a near-perfect game to knock off top-seeded Bangor in the Colonial League semifinals.
And for six innings, the Lady Tigers played as close to perfect as he could have asked for But Bangor still had one last inning to work with.