NEW TRIPOLI – After losing to Southern Lehigh in the first round of the Colonial League playoffs was disappointing to say the least. That fire was a spark to ignite the Lady Tigers as they put it all together to top Emmaus 4-1 to advance to the quarterfinals of the District XI tournament.
"We're really excited about this win. We were trying to get back into the groove of things after losing to Southern Lehigh," Northwestern's Katie Hughes said. "We worked really hard and it all started to come together."
The score was knotted 1-1 and anybody's game to win late in the first half. Northwestern needed a game changer with 3:02 left Cassy Yost did just that. Finding herself free and with the ball to the left of the goal provided the perfect opportunity for a perfect shot. Her left footed boot curved high and into the top far corner of the goal to give her team momentum going into half.
The second half belonged to a driven Northwestern squad that relentlessly pressured the Green Hornet's defense and smothered nearly every offensive effort by the visitors.
As they controlled the ball and the tempo of the game, Katie Hallingstad, who was out for most of the season and recently returned, controlled the ball and continually peppered the Emmaus Keeper.
"I was feeling frustrated because goals weren't going in, but I kept on shooting and In knew eventually,m one would go in," Hallingstad said.
Forward Katie Hughes worked the ball to Hallingstad to the right of the net and alone with Keeper Shannon Doughtry. Hallingstad found the corner and extended the Northwestern lead to 3-1 with just over 16 minutes left in the game.
The defensive unit of Bethany Billy, Aubrey Kehs, Haylee Kubat, and Rachel Kester were stellar in limiting the few chances Emmaus had. Hughes, Sara Jones, Em Yobst were among the many to control the middle of the field and provide more scoring chances.
As the clock wound down, Hallingstad, with the most playing time sincere her return from offseason surgery, found the wheels to break away. Another one-on-one opportunity was not lost. A deke left and the goal keeper committed wrongly and fell to the ground, Hallingstad pounded the back of the net uncontested for the 4-1 lead with just under three minutes to go.
"Usually the Keeper tries to distract you," Hallingstad said. "I just tried to ignore the keeper, find the corners, and they went in."
"Northwestern outplayed us coach Rob Rooney said.
"The girls played well today," Northwestern coach Kelly Bleam said. "The girls need to feel proud about themselves. They had fun even when thing's were tense out there."
The sixth-seeded Lady Tigers host Central Catholic on Friday at 4 p.m..
Anna Fricchione finished a Sarah Jones crossing pass to give Northwestern the early lead. The game teetered with neither team grabbing control. Emmaus did grab some luck when a Devyn Hannis shot slipped through the hands of Northwestern's Goal Keeper Kelly Boyd to tie the game.
The goal gave Emmaus (12-5-4) a glimmer of hope in attempts to pull off the upset.
"We believe we are a good team," Rooney said. "Injuries aside we still believe we are a good team. There isn't anything here that would make me not believe that we were still a good team. I am proud of the girls."
"I think we're finally reaching our potential," Hughes said.