Northwestern came into Friday night’s match up with Southern Lehigh one game behind the Spartans and knowing that a win would provide a nice boost for the District 11 Class AA power ranking.
The Tigers left Southern Lehigh with the win that they needed, taking a 24-21 decision. For the Northwestern players, it was the first time during their high school careers that they came away with a win against Southern Lehigh.
Momentum shifted from sideline-to-sideline throughout the night as the teams pulled off one big play after another against each other.
Northwestern field hockey coach Lissa Opolsky was a high school and college goalkeeper, so she knows the pressure that comes in a tight game. She withstood that pressure as a player and seems to have passed that ability down to her players, who came up big when they needed it most to grab a 3-1 win over Northern Lehigh in last week’s season finale. The win clinched a spot in the District 11 Class AA playoffs, which begin next week.
Over the last two weeks Northwestern’s Harry Hall added two more chapter in what has been a storybook career.
In a gritty, come-from-behind win over Salisbury two weeks ago, Hall once again had all the right moves. The senior rushed for 191 yards on 32 carries and two critical scores in the 30-21 victory.
Northwestern boys soccer head coach Nate Hunsicker has high praise for senior forward JD Haaf.
It was evident on Tuesday night that Hunsicker was breathing a little bit easier when Haaf had control of the ball in the Colonial League semifinal against No. 4 seed Salisbury.
Haaf scored two first half goals and the defense did the rest for the No. 1 seeded Tigers in a 2-0 win.
It was 53 weeks ago when Northwestern downed Palmerton 50-21 on its way to a 9-1 record, a share of the Colonial League title and a District 11 Class AA championship. Ironically, the two teams almost had a rematch in the District 11 championship, but the Blue Bombers fell to North Schuylkill in the semifinals.
The Northwestern and Saucon Valley girls soccer teams are familiar with each other when it comes to postseason play, as the two Colonial League foes have met in the league championship the past three seasons. This year, however, the two squared off in the semifinals Tuesday evening at Northern Lehigh High School.
The Lady Tigers extended their league playoff win streak over the Panthers to three games with a 1-0 win to advance to Thursday’s title game against Southern Lehigh at 5 p.m. in Slatington.
Northwestern needed a spark. The score was tied 0-0 in the middle of the second half. Notre Dame (Green Pond) had just as many quality chances on net as the Tigers, but both goal keepers were standing tall. It was looking as if this Colonial League clash was going to go into extra time.
But then Kenny Gawelko settled a pass onto his feet from the back end, turned towards goal, and chipped the Crusaders goalie from just inside the 18. That proved to be enough as Northwestern’s defense held firm for a 1-0 win Tuesday night in Green Pond.
On homecoming night at Tigers Stadium, Northwestern used a big performance from running back Harry Hall, key completions by quarterback Dylan Snyder and another special teams touchdown to pick up a 30-21 win over Salisbury.
Hall’s 191 yards rushing gave him 4,332 career rushing yards, making him the all-time leading rusher in Northwestern High School history. The previous mark was set by Brett Snyder, who finished his high school career with 4,281 yards. As usual, Hall downplayed the milestone, preferring instead to give credit to the players who helped him reach the mark.
It’s a bit ironic.
The last time the Northwestern girls cross country team lost in a regular season league meet was on October 13, 2010. Exactly five years ago to the day, the Lady Tiger harriers were on the verge of keeping their unbeaten league streak alive well into the 100s.
On Tuesday evening, the Lady Tigers did just that. Northwestern defeated all four teams (Moravian Academy, Notre Dame-Green Pond, Palisades and Saucon Valley) in their regular season finale at Palmerton High School that pushed their winning streak to 129 contests.
Northwestern had only been shut out twice prior to Thursday’s Colonial League matchup against Palisades. The only time that happened in Colonial League play was in the second week of the season against unbeaten Saucon Valley, 2-0.
Unfortunately for the Tigers (11-3 overall, 8-2 in Colonial League), that happened once again on Thursday night when the Pirates (11-3-2, 8-2) used two goals just over four minutes apart in the second half to secure a much-needed win at Palisades High School.