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.
Opportunities create better odds to win.
And Northwestern created ample opportunities during the District 11 Class 2A girls soccer quarterfinals on Tuesday night.
Northwestern fired 32 shots en route to a 5-0 victory over Northern Lehigh.
“Our game plan was to get a lot of shots and get them early, before the opposing team was able to shut down our shooting opportunities,” said Northwestern head coach Kelly Bleam. “That was pretty much everything coming into it.”
The 2016 season was unlike many in recent memory for the Northwestern girls’ cross country team.
The Tigers 134-dual meet winning streak, which spanned six seasons, was snapped. A five-year run as Colonial League champions ended, too.
What a different a year makes. The Tigers returned to championship form and began a new winning streak this season.
Northwestern head coach Josh Snyder knew that Northern Lehigh would present a challenge for his football team in the penultimate week of the regular season.
For the first half, the winless Bulldogs fought tooth and nail with the favored Northwestern squad.
In the second half, however, the Tiger defense took charge. It held Northern Lehigh scoreless after halftime with the Bulldogs gaining just two first downs and 60 yards of offense over the final 24 minutes en route to a 35-14 Northwestern win.
With a win over Northern Lehigh last week, Northwestern moved into position to finish the regular season at 5-5 if they can beat Catasauqua in the final game of the Colonial League season.
While hopes at the beginning of the season were centered higher than five wins, the fact that the Tigers are at that point is impressive considering an 0-3 start.