SALISBURY TOWNSHIP - Persistence usually pays off. It did for Northwestern Friday night in the Colonial League girls soccer final.
The Tigers kept putting the ball in the box, pressuring the Bangor goal and earning corner kicks. Finally, with 16:07 left in the game, the Tigers converted on a corner for a 1-0 lead they hung on to for the win and the title.
Northwestern sophomore defender Rachel Kester placed her eighth corner kick of the game perfectly on the foot of Cassie Yost, who redirected it into the goal.
"She gave me the ball on my cleat and I put in near post," said Yost, who has two goals in two league playoff games this week.
The Tigers had six first-half corners, but Bangor didn't let any turn into quality shots. In the second half Northwestern kept up the pressure and started to get opportunities. After a 1-0 loss to the Slaters earlier this season, Bleam tried to make sure her team stayed positive.
"It was very visible on the girls faces," she said. "They were starting to wear down from not being able to score on this opponent. One of the most important things that I presented at halftime was that they could not focus on what didn't go in. She's an outstanding goal keeper. She's top shelf. "
The Tigers outshot Bangor 9-4 in the game. Keeper Steph Wain kept made eight saves, but there was little she could do on the game-winner.
"That was a textbook corner kick," said Northwestern head coach Kelly Bleam. "You couldn't get any better than that. Even I was amazed."
The title is the Tigers eighth since 2000 and second in five years. With a team that starts just three seniors and uses six sophomores and two freshmen, the playoff experience this week will be vital heading into districts, where the Lady Tigers will likely be the top seed in Class AA.
"We have such a great team," said senior defender Seneca Tucker. "We had the potential and we just had to play our best. We played some great teams and they really gave us a run for our money. It feels great to come away with the title."
Northwestern went 11-2 in the league this year, it's two losses coming to Bangor and undefeated Southern Lehigh, which Bangor knocked off in the semifinal. The Tigers beat Saucon Valley 2-0 in Wendsay's semifinal and are playing as well as they have at any point this season.
"We saw the talent we have on our team and we knew we could do this," said senior goal-keeper Chelsea Ritter. "We played the game of our soccer lives together. Bangor was more than a worthy opponent."
Ritter, who made several key stops in Wendesday's semifinal win, usually splits time in goal with junior Kelly Boyd, each playing a half in most games. But Bleam let the senior play the whole title game.