The Northwestern girls soccer team has learned that one key to success is to not give up more than one goal in a game. Coming into Tuesday night’s PIAA Class 2A first-round game against Central Columbia, the Tigers (19-3-1) had allowed two or more goals just three times on the season and had lost two of those games.
Against the Blue Jays, they survived with a 3-2 win, but coach Kelly Bleam wasn’t happy with some defensive miscues that led to the two Central Columbia goals.
It might have been Halloween, but the Northwestern boys soccer team wasn’t getting frightened after 67 minutes of the District 11 Class 3A semifinal.
The Tigers stayed patient and finally broke through with a pair of goals in the final 13 minutes of the game to beat Southern Lehigh 2-0 and advance to their third straight district title game.
“First half we were getting the opportunities, but we weren’t putting them away,” said Tiger senior Noah Meyers. “We had one off the crossbar. Second half we played a bit better and we put two away.
Molly Tarvin couldn’t help but think about what might have been.
The Northwestern girls second place finish in the Class 2A standings at last week’s District 11 Cross Country Championships might not have been the result the team wanted. But the Tigers still clinched a spot at this weekend’s state meet and improved on last year’s result with their performance.
“We did want that first, we were gunning for that,” said Molly Tarvin, who finished 13th. “But second is better than fourth, which is what we were last year.
Facing adversity for the first time in the District 11 playoffs, and for one of the few times all season, Northwestern girls soccer head coach Kelly Bleam didn’t know how her team would respond.
It turns out, all she had to do was ask some of her seniors.
Because despite facing a 2-1 halftime deficit, the confidence of the Tiger players never wavered.
Their attitude translated into a collective ‘We got this.’
And they did.
Sara Hathaway has no trouble scoring goals.
Even a switch in Northwestern’s normal formation wasn’t going to slow her down.
But on a night when the Tigers’ leading scorer added two more goals to her season total, it might have been a first-half assist that was her most important contribution.
Behind the offensive play of Hathaway and Maggie Motolese, and another superb defensive showing, Northwestern rolled to a 5-0 victory over Pine Grove in the District 11 Class 2A girls soccer semifinals on Thursday at Lehighton.
“In no area of my right mind should I ever have called a pass play with our defense playing tough and just 30 seconds left,” said Northwestern head football coach Josh Snyder, who accepted complete blame for the Tigers 21-18 loss to Catasauqua (3-7) last week.
With his team facing a fourth down and trying to put away its final regular season game of the season, Snyder called for Phil Dangello to throw a pass out of the wildcat formation. It was just Dangello’s fourth pass attempt of the season and could have easily caught the Rough Riders off guard.
It was just four weeks ago when Northwestern and Bangor battled at Tiger Stadium, but a lot has changed for both teams since then. Back then, Bangor was running the ball with inconsistent success, but stuck with the ground game. Northwestern’s ground game was the worst in the Colonial League in terms of stats, and still is, and the Tigers were throwing the ball more than they would have hoped. The Tigers (4-6) were also battling with a lot of injuries.
A quick score is often a team’s best friend
Saucon Valley’s Megan Hashagen scored just 40 seconds into the game and the Panthers held off the second-half push from Northwestern for a 2-1 win in the District 11 Class A field hockey quarterfinal last week.
“We talked about that,” said Saucon Valley head coach Sarah Hawk. “We wanted to get on top right away. We wanted to score early and often. The last time we played them we lost 2-1. We just talked about other teams that we lost to before and we came back and played really well against.”
Northwestern didn’t exactly have things go as planned in the early part of the game Tuesday night in its PIAA District 11 Class 2A final against Palisades at Parkland High School.
It was just a matter of making a halftime adjustment.
In a hard-fought and tight battle from start to finish, the Tigers took the bus ride back home with gold medals around their neck after a 3-2 victory that in large part was due to their second-half reset.
Every team sport has them. Dynasties develop over time and new ones are formed all the time.
The University of Alabama has dominated the collegiate football landscape over the last decade, winning four national championships since 2009. The New England Patriots have won three of the past six Super Bowls. And the Golden State Warriors, winning two of the last three NBA Finals, have become one the most popular and successful teams of all-time.