Offensive pressure is key in most sports and field hockey is no exception. Whichever team can control the ball in the opposition’s defensive zone throughout that game usually comes away with the victory.
In the first half of opening round play of the PIAA Class A state tournament, New Hope-Solebury dominated in that aspect against Northwestern Lehigh, scoring two goals off that pressure. The two goals were all the Lions needed to advance as they defeated the Tigers 2-0n.
Northwestern outshot Saucon Valley 12-1. The Tigers also held a 12-1 advantage in corner kicks. And the top-seeded, three-time defending district champion Tigers dominated time of possession the entire second half.
But when all was said and done, the only stat that mattered was the 1-0 final score in favor of Saucon Valley.
The Northwestern girls cross country team regularly qualifies for the PIAA Championships. But this year, with a change in the number of teams that qualify from District 11, things were just a little more difficult.
Just one team from the district would qualify for states this year, so the Tigers had to win the whole thing in order to advance. And they did just that last Wednesday at Bethlehem Municipal Golf Course.
The Tigers ran in a tight pack, placing their top five runners in the top 20 to earn the program’s first district title since 2014.
Lissa Opolsky didn’t have to look far for a reminder.
“We looked up at the board that’s on our field the other day when we were practicing, and the last district championship that’s posted on there is from 2004,” said the Northwestern field hockey head coach.
The Tigers moved one step closer to ending that drought on Monday, powering past Wilson 4-0 in the District 11 Class A semifinals.
Northwestern will play No. 1 seed Lehighton in the final.
For a team that came into the season finale 1-8 and was just looking to finish out its season, the Catasauqua Rough Riders got off to an impressive start against Northwestern but couldn’t keep the momentum going. Eventually, the Tigers wore them down in a wild 61-27 game where in the first 3:32 of the game there were just eight plays from scrimmage, but 28 points as the two teams battled to a 14-14 tie at that point.
It might not have been the prettiest goal Sam Seyfried has ever scored.
But what it lacked in beauty, it more than made up for in importance.
Seyfried scored the game’s only goal as Northwestern defeated Southern Lehigh, 1-0, in a District 11 Class 3A boys soccer semifinal game on Tuesday at Palmerton.
“It doesn’t matter if it’s a SportsCenter Top 10 goal or an ugly goal, they all count the same,” said Tiger coach Nate Hunsicker. “Sam scored off a mess in front and that’s all we needed.
The Northwestern football team returns to the District 11 playoffs for the first time since 2015 when it advanced to the finals, but fell to Notre Dame (Green Pond) 32-22.
This time around, the Tigers start with a game against Allentown Central Catholic, a team that going by the records, the Tigers should win easily. The problem is that it’s difficult to compare teams from different conferences and the 3-7 Vikings will prove a tougher team than many may think.
Defending District 11 titlist Northwestern showed it still had the fight of a champion.
But upstart Notre Dame proved the heart of an underdog can be even more powerful.
The Crusaders stunned top-seeded Northwestern, 5-4, in a Class 2A quarterfinal round game on Thursday at Northern Lehigh High School.
“We didn’t look at them like an eighth seed,” said Northwestern coach Kelly Bleam. “We knew they were a good team, and we knew we were in for a battle.
“So it wasn’t a case of us taking them lightly. “
After establishing its running game as a potent weapon through the early going, Northwestern has seen teams focus on stopping the run. That approach would work if the Tigers were a one-dimensional team, but junior quarterback Deven Bollinger has shown that he can get the ball to his receivers. He threw for 251 yards in a 35-7 win over Northern Lehigh last Friday night.
The final week of the high school football regular season is here and different teams have different recollections on just how fast the season has gone. Catasauqua’s football season has been a rough ride in 2018. The team has just one win, which came against 1-8 Wilson, and hasn’t been competitive in most of their games. They beat the Warriors by just three points and all of their losses have been by 21 or more points.
Meanwhile, the Northwestern Tigers are 8-1 and looking to play in districts for the first time since 2015.