October 30, 2019
By: Erica Rose
The way the leagues around the Lehigh Valley are set up, most schools end up playing each other multiple times in a season; especially the good ones who can face each other 3 or 4 times thanks to the post season. Last night was no different when #2 Northwestern and #3 Saucon Valley met up for the third this year in the District XI 1A field hockey semifinals. The Tigers took the prior two meetings each with a score of 3-0, but they know as well as any team that it is difficult to defeat a team three times in one year. Head Coach Lissa Opolsky laughed after the game, completely agreeing. Saucon Valley has a lot of talented athletes, not just in field hockey, but in lacrosse too. And anyone who saw the game saw a much closer match then the previous two, she said. Saucon Valley was resilient and they battled until the end, credit to them.
Northwestern started the game strong. They controlled the offense and definitely limited Saucon’s time in their circle, however the Panthers put up a good fight. It took the Tigers 25 minutes to break the tie, and it came off of a great cross and deflection from Tess Ledeboer to Brynn Balliet. After the game Balliet thought that passing was definitely key in the win. The team is playing really well together right now, and they just have to keep playing this way. The Panthers would get their first corner with :35 seconds remaining in the half, but not capitalize.
The second half saw the Panthers come out with a fire under them. This time they possessed the ball, and they were the ones spending time in the circle. The team would force 4 corners in this half. Unfortunately for them the Tigers defense was a brick wall. 1-0 would hold up after a Northwestern corner saw a ball deflect off the right post, and the Tigers would be headed back to the District XI championship for the second straight year. This time the Tigers will be facing top seeded Moravian Academy who took down the defending champs, Lehighton, in OT.
Last year, the team surprised a lot of people by making the championship as the 7th seed. This year is different. This year they feel they belong here, they knew what they had to do and they worked hard to put themselves in this position, said Opolsky. The Lions took the 2-1 victory in the regular season, and although I do think Moravian Academy has the edge once again, I expect it to be a good one.