Tigers fall on OT goal
NANCY SCHOLZ/TIMES NEWS Timothy East (9) of Northwestern shields a Southern Lehigh player as he settles the ball.
Northwestern nearly doubled Southern Lehigh's shot total during Monday's District 11 Class AA semifinal contest at Whitehall, but the shot advantage didn't turn into a winning formula for the third-seeded Tigers.
That's because Andrew Fetterman's goal in double overtime gave second-seeded Southern Lehigh a 1-0 win to continue the Spartans' season and end Northwestern's in agony.
Fetterman took a through ball on the left side of the goal, beat a defender and snuck a rolling ball across the box into the back of the net to give the Spartans (17-5) a rematch with Saucon Valley in Wednesday's District 11 2A finals.
The top-seeded Panthers (20-1) handled fifth-seeded Bethlehem Catholic 4-0 to solidify their spot in the finals, but it was a night of missed opportunities for Northwestern, one that head coach Fernando Carrizo fully understood as his team ended its campaign at 15-5 overall.
"Putting the ball in the back of the net is what wins games," said Carrizo of his team, who outshot Southern Lehigh by a 27-14 margin. "We just didn't finish tonight and that cost us."
The Tigers dominated play throughout the contest, continually running at the Spartan defense late in the first half and for the first 23 minutes of the second half, to keep the pressure in the Spartan zone. A scoreless regulation and first overtime session led to the desperation of the final overtime, where Northwestern again had chances to steal the game-winner. David Haaf took a free kick just outside the box with 11:15 left in double overtime, only to have his knuckling shot blocked by a diving Conner Vanin.
Vanin would also come up clutch in the net two minutes later for Southern Lehigh. Northwestern's James Hoover broke through the box with only Vanin to beat, but the Spartan keeper cut down the angle on Hoover's high shot to make the save.
That's when Fetterman ended the 102-minute deadlock with a subtle touch past Northwestern keeper Michael Pandel to give the Spartans a joyous celebration in Whitehall.
"This game never felt like it was going to end, but we just needed one opportunity and we finally got it," said Fetterman. "I just got the ball in the right place and had a 1v1 situation. I beat the defender and then slipped the ball past the keeper. It was a great way to end the night."
Monday's loss marked the second 1-0 defeat at the hands of the Spartans this year for Northwestern, but despite the results, Carrizo knows what type of team he had.
"I know now that we're the better team, despite not winning," said Carrizo. "I think when you look back at this game, our team was the better team tonight. We just didn't finish.
"It still was a great year for us. The boys gave everything they had, we just came up a little short."