Northern Valley isn't the kind of team that likes to make things easy.
Heading into their final four games of the season, the Chargers felt they needed at least two wins to secure a postseason berth. That remaining schedule included the league's last place team as well as three of the Lehigh Valley League's top four teams.
Even without nearly half of his team's starters in last week's summer game, one thing remained constant from last fall's squad-leading goal-scorer JD Haff.
Against an Eastern Pennsylvania Conference (EPC) team in Liberty last Wednesday, Haaf was one of just a handful of Northwestern starters from last season that were in uniform. But that didn't stop the Tigers from pulling out a gritty overtime victory after allowing a late equalizing goal in the final minutes.
If there's one thing Len Smith wants to be remembered for, it's that the program has always been about the players. While he was at the helm for more than three decades, the team was always at the forefront.
That's why Smith kept it to himself all season. He had serious thoughts about retiring from coaching early in preseason, but he didn't share those thoughts until well after the season.
"This isn't about me," he said. "This is about the kids. I didn't want the focus during the season to be on me. I wanted the focus to be on the kids."
The NYAA program had been pushing to get a volleyball team at the high school level for six years before it finally happened in the fall of 2012.
When it finally did become a sport at Northwestern Lehigh High School three years ago, the interest grew so much that around 40 girls went out for roughly 20-25 varsity and junior varsity spots combined.
"Every year we would go to school board meetings and try to convince them," said Jenny Von Holt, who played two seasons for Northwestern. "And finally in my junior year there was enough interest."
The jump from high school to college is a difficult one. The path is even more demanding when students choose to continue their athletic careers at the collegiate level.
Lauren Horner, a 2012 graduate of Northwestern Lehigh High School, is no different. Following a remarkable field hockey career with the Lady Tigers, she used her first season at Monmouth University as one to acclimate herself with the change in scenery, like all collegiate athletes.
A year ago, Horner was polishing her skills to cement a position switch to left back on the Hawks' defensive line.
A season ago, the DeSales University womens cross country team finished third in the Middle Atlantic Conference Championships and 21st out of 52 teams in the NCAA Division III Mid-East Regional Championships.
With the Lady Bulldogs looking to take a few steps forward this season, as they have raced in three meets thus far, head coach Gordon Hornig made a few changes to his team's offseason preparation. In addition to an increase in distance the team was asked to run, the Bulldogs' practices have been more intense than recent years.
The saying goes: the higher the stage, the bigger the reward.
But that stage can also produce some of the toughest heartbreaks.
Unfortunately for the Misericordia University field hockey team, it experienced what it was like to go through the latter last season.
Junior defender Samantha Partington, a 2012 graduate of Northwestern High School, was a member of that Cougars team that came up a goal short to Wilkes University in overtime of the Freedom Conference championship game. It was the first time since 2008 that the Cougars qualified for the conference tournament.
The Philadelphia Eagles partnered with Santander Bank on Monday afternoon for a field goal challenge among participating members of the media.
Nearly 20 entrants, including myself, participated in the name of bragging rights, but more importantly, for charity.
Going into the competition, I didn't know which charity I would donate to until I saw a Sports Center feature on Peter Frates, the former Boston College baseball player who is battling ALS (Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) and who started the viral social media phenomenon, which is the ice bucket challenge.
Northampton's Cody Kramer just missed on a pitch in the bottom of the seventh inning of Game 3 of last week's Blue Mountain League championship series that would have propelled the Giants to a series win.
When he saw the same pitch one throw later from Limeport's Adam Maini, he made the Bulls pay for it.
With that swing also came history for the Northampton Giants.
Lissa Munley knows the history of Northwestern Lehigh's field hockey program.
The first-year coach sees the sign for the 1990 state title every day at the far end of her team's practice field. And she's confident the Tigers can return to the elite and become a perennial league and district title contender like they were in the late 1990s and early 2000s.
While her players are too young to remember Northwestern's last championship teams, they, too, see the sign. They know what the program once was.