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.
Last season, Southern Lehigh and Northwestern were two of the three teams that shared the Colonial League Championship, giving the Spartans back-to-back titles. This season, Southern Lehigh is looking to make it three in a row and they’re in good shape to do just that at 5-1.
Following close on their heels, the Tigers stand at 4-2 and are still hoping to get into the final mix of teams at the top, although they’ll need some help to accomplish that.
Sometimes, an opposing coach can give a proper assessment of how a team plays. In the case of Northwestern’s 1-0 loss to Parkland, Lady Trojans coach Al Haddad seemed to hit the nail right on the head.
“We didn’t create enough scoring opportunities against Northwestern, and in all honesty, they could have won that game,” said Haddad after the win.
When Northwestern suffered its first loss of the season last week, 1-0 to Salisbury, the team had to choose a path.
It could let the loss pull it downward or use it as learning experience and motivation.
The Tigers did the latter. They headed into Monday’s rescheduled contest against Moravian Academy, the only other unbeaten team in the Colonial League ready to erase the loss from their memory.
The did just that, beating the Lions 3-0 to remain the only undefeated team in the league. The loss to Salisbury was a nonleague game between the two league rivals.
Salisbury averaged right around 30 points per game last season. The Falcons have upped that to 35 points per game this season. One of the keys is the passing of senior quarterback Tevon Weber, who has thrown for just under 700 yards this season.