June 09, 2017
By: Kristi Fulkerson
It took 87 games, 45 wins, and nearly seven seasons but Steelhawks playoff football is finally coming to the Lehigh Valley. The Black and Gold clinched the No. 2 seed with a 67-52 win against High Country on Saturday, finishing their regular season home schedule with a perfect 6-0 mark. They will host the NAL’s No. 3 seed, Columbus or Monterrey, on Friday June 23rd at 7:30pm at PPL Center.
In head coach Chris Thompson’s words the feat was ‘a long time coming’.
“It’s a credit to what these guys have done all season,” he continued. “Their work ethic and determination, and the way they’ve played for one another.”
Lehigh Valley did not qualify for the postseason in it’s inaugural season in 2011 but have competed every year since Thompson took the reigns in 2012, compiling a 2-5 playoff record — all road games.
In 2016, the team came painfully close to hosting the first round of AIF playoffs, starting the year 5-0 before dropping two of their final three contests — both to rival Central Penn, a non-playoff team. (The Steelhawks have since added a handful of Capitals players and a coach to their roster). The losses meant a third place finish for Lehigh Valley and a date with the River City Raiders in St. Charles, Missouri — a 14 hour bus ride. And if that wasn’t enough, following a crazy 54-52 win, the Steelhawks returned to Allentown only to get back
on a bus two days later to Muskegon, Michigan —a mere 12-hour trip one way. That’s where their season would end in a 42-35 loss to the West Michigan Ironmen.
Needless to say, a home
playoff game could make all the difference in the Steelhawks’ bid for their first league championship of any kind.
NAL Playoff Schedule
No. 4 Columbus (7-3)/Monterrey (6-3) vs. No. 1 Jacksonville (10-0) - Saturday June 24, 2017 - 7pm
No. 3 Columbus (7-3)/Monterrey (6-3) vs. No. 2 Lehigh Valley (8-1) - Friday June 23, 2017 - 7:30pm
*Watch exclusive coverage of Steelhawks playoff football live on TV2!