RAVINE The atmosphere Tuesday night resembled that of a District 11 football game. The fans were routy, the players fought hard, the coaches were animated, but when the dust settled it was Pine Grove that edged Northwestern in the first round of District 11 AA soccer play 3-2.
The game featured a lot of exciting goals, pair that with a little controversy and you have all the makings for a good ole' fashioned soccer dog fight.
The first half ended with Pine Grove up 2-1, with Cole Schwalm doing the damage for the Cardinals. Schwalm's first score came off an indirect kick with 25:26 left in the half . Brett Weber sailed the kick to an awaiting Scwhalm who chipped the ball in for the goal.
Northwestern did what any good team does when they're down, they responded and with flair. The Tigers' Jeremy Ettl showed his ball handling ability to the Cardinals flipping the ball over his right shoulder and striking the ball into the net to even up the score at one a piece at the 21:03 mark.
"Jeremy probably didn't have as good as a regular season as he would of liked, but he's been picking it up," said Northwestern Head Coach Nate Hunsicker. "He showed tonight that he can score in bunches and he's a skilled player. We need him to do that for us because as a team we have been struggling offensively."
Pine Grove then answered back with another Schwalm goal. Weber once again was responsible for the assist striking a ball into the middle off a corner kick. Schwalm secured the ball on the bounce and finished the play, putting the Cardinals up 2-1 heading into the half.
The Tigers had a chance to tie it right before the half but missed a penalty kick that flew off the top cross bar and was cleared by Pine Grove.
Northwestern didn't waste any time getting down to business scoring at the 38:22 mark with Ettl once again showing his talents. Ettl dribbled around two Pine Grove defenders and whipped the ball into the net to even up the score for the second time of the game.
Numerous times throughout the match emotions ran high between the two squads. The two head coaches made it evident that keeping their players under control in such a high emotion game is a tough task, but in order to gain a victory cooler heads must prevail.
"I just tell my kids to stay focused," said Pine Grove Head Coach Mark Wyllie. "It's tough because these kids are 16 and 17 years old and they live off their emotion. Were lucky to have seven seniors who know how to calm our team down and finish out games."
That's exactly what the Cardinals did with a third Cole Schwalm goal with ten minutes left. Schwalm's hat-trick proved to be the game winner and the Cards finished off the Tigers for a 3-2 opening round victory.