EMMAUS There are benefits to receiving a number one seed and, believe it or not, there are also detriments.
One of those detriments came into play for the Lehighton field hockey team over the weekend and almost cost them a chance to move on in the District 11 AA Tournament. The Tribe, after being deemed the top seed, received a bye in the first round of the playoff and, as part of that, had a week and a half break.
"After a week and a half of having off, it definitely took its toll, and I think that was obvious today," said Lehighton head coach Shawn Hindy. "We had some great practices and a scrimmage during that span, but there's nothing like real games to get the players in that needed frame of mind."
In the first half of Saturday afternoon's semifinal doubleheader at Emmaus High School, the Indians were a little on the sloppy side and looked sluggish, as they were being beaten to the ball and even trailed 1-0 at halftime. Eventually, the aggressive style that the Tribe is accustomed to returned and the locals tied it up and eventually pulled off the come-from-behind win, 2-1, over fifth-seeded Palisades.
"They have some really good players and are definitely well-coached," Hindy said. "But I think we were playing a little too passive early on and once we fixed that, the game turned in our favor."
Palisades (13-6-1), which beat Saucon Valley in the quarterfinals, got a first half score off a corner from Tiffany Hendricks. Some great passing led to Abby Glascott taking the ball and leading a charging Hendricks on the right side of the net, where she slammed home the game-opening goal at the 11:53 mark.
"A lot of people understimated us and we just tried to keep the momentum going after the big win (in the quarters)," Palisades head coach Pam Cianni said. "I thought we dominated the first half, but the second, they just seemed to beat us to every ball and out play us."
The second half definitely seemed to feature a different Lehighton team, as its aggression picked up and led to some early corners. However, even though the Indians came out of the gates in the second half with a vengeance, they were still unable to capitalize.
That is, until there was 23:40 left in the second half, when a Lehighton corner saw some textbook passing result in a beautiful slapshot from senior captain Echo Bretz to tie the game up.
"Once they got that first goal on us, I think we just needed to get over ourselves as being our own worst enemy," Bretz said. "I just tried to be patient and do my part out there."
Lehighton challenged again shortly after that and actually had Palisades goalie Meghan Hughes diving in front of the net, but an infraction on the Indians kept the game tied.
For the next couple minutes, the ball travelled back and forth on the field, before the Lady Indians got a penalty corner and set up the final score of the game.
At the 13:21 mark, Bretz took a pass and fed Sarah Keer, who banged it home for the game-winning score.
Lehighton held a 12-6 edge in shots-on-goal in the game and a 10-9 advantage in corners. LHS goalie Kristina Schnell stopped five shots while Hughes stopped 10 for the Pirates.
With the win, Lehighton moves on to the finals, where it will play Southern Lehigh, a 4-0 winner over Moravian Academy, on Tuesday at Emmaus at 7 p.m.
"It's going to be a battle," Hindy said about the championship matchup with Southern Lehigh. "But it's great because we get to play for another District title."