Professional soccer will be back in Bethlehem and the Philadelphia Union made things official on Wednesday afternoon at Lehigh University's Goodman Stadium.
The Union held a press conference announcing it will continue its player development structure by launching its own team in the lower division United Soccer League.
Union CEO Nick Sakiewicz was joined by Lehigh University president John Simon and USL CEO Alec Papadakis for the announcement.
The team is expected to play in Goodman Stadium and implements an important element in the club's player development.
After a pair of deflating losses in Games 3 and 4 of their Blue Mountain League semifinals matchup against Northampton, Limeport co-manager Mike Cudwadie knew two things: The Bulls needed a quick start and their bats needed to come alive in Game 5.
Limeport scored 15 runs in Games 1 and 2 of that series to take a 2-0 lead. But the bats seemed to disappear after Northampton evened the series at two games apiece and held the Bulls to just one run.
Just a week ago, it looked as if the road to another championship appearance in the Blue Mountain League would be easy for Limeport.
The Bulls, who finished the regular season with the No. 1 seed in the playoffs at 25-11, quickly built a 2-0 series lead against the Northampton Giants. A pitching spectacle from ace Adam Maini in Game 1 led to an 8-0 win. A 7-5 victory the next day brought the Bulls within one win of their fourth championship appearance in six years.
Coming into the summer, Northwestern head coach Nate Hunsicker had high expectations for the Tiger boys soccer team.
And why wouldn't he? Northwestern lost just three conferences games in the Colonial League last season and finished as district runner-up. Before that, the Tigers had a successful summer in the Lehigh Valley Summer Soccer League. But the biggest sign of optimism is that the Tigers graduated just two senior starters from last year-Brandon Herb and Cody Gangaware.
In its seven years of existence, the Northern Valley Connie Mack baseball team has certainly had its share of memorable campaigns. But few seasons have produced a better record than this year's squad. In fact, only one Chargers team had a longer run in states.
Northwestern's lacrosse team doesn't have the reputation of other schools like Parkland, Emmaus and Southern Lehigh, but that didn't stop two Tigers from making a name for themselves across the Lehigh Valley youth lacrosse landscape.
Cole Norman and Zach Anderson, who both play for the Northwestern Youth Athletic Association (NYAA) U-15 boys lacrosse team, were recently named to the Lehigh Valley Keystone Games all-star squad that competed at Penn State.
Norman and Anderson were two of 21 selections out of the 45 kids that tried out at Southern Lehigh High School.
While a championship in the summer would be nice, the main goal of the Northwestern coaching staff is improving its girls' basketball team throughout the offseason.
So, when the Tigers are paired up with Class AAAA schools from the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference they don't mind it one bit. In fact, the Tigers prefer that challenge as they face schools of that stature regular season nonleague games.
During last week's SportsFest A-Town Throwdown Tournament at Allentown's Cedar Beach Park, the Tigers experienced plenty of that competition firsthand.
The Northwestern boys soccer program has been known to be successful, and one of the premier programs in District 11 for over a decade.
Even when the games don't mean as much, and the roster isn't set in stone, the players perform like it is the state final, with great touches and ball movement, creating easy scoring opportunities.
But the hard part about summer league soccer for head coach Nate Hunsicker and assistant coach Derrick Reinert has been the numbers game, and not knowing who will be at each game due to other commitments.
Northern Valley made a nice run in the Lehigh Valley Legion playoffs, but ultimately, the Chargers' season ended short of where they wanted to be. On Sunday, in the first game of two potential games that they would have had to play that day, Northern Valley was blanked by South Parkland, 7-0, ending their season.
There figures to be a period of transition as the dog days of summer start to appear.
Many high school basketball teams are in the middle of a rebuild process, and play in the summer only helps speed up that process for the upcoming winter season. So naturally, teams will experience both ups and downs when working out their chemistry on the court.