Tigers fall in CL semis
NANCY SCHOLZ Northwestern's Jeremy Ettl traps the ball during the Colonial League semifinals.
ALLENTOWN Nearly six weeks ago, Saucon Valley handed Northwestern it's first loss of the 2009 Colonial League season on opening night.
It was the same Panthers' program that also dealt the Tigers their only Colonial League loss of 2008 in the championship game.
Last night, Northwestern had a prime opportunity to return the favor to undefeated Saucon Valley in this year's league semifinals.
While the Tigers entered the semifinals with all three of their losses coming against teams in the league tournament, the Panthers entered as the tourney's No. 1 seed with an unblemished 13-0 regular season record.
Northwestern came close to getting some revenge, but thanks to Kyle Shannon's second half goal the Panthers escaped with a thrilling 1-0 victory.
"We had nothing to lose," senior Tiger goalkeeper Nate Kester said. "We came in here with the best intentions with what to do upset someone since no one gave us a lot of credit.
"We just wanted to come in and surprise everybody. But, it didn't happen that way."
It wasn't what the Tigers' mentor wanted to see play out that evening either, especially with seven seniors playing what turned out to be their final league contest. But all he cared about was the intensity they played with for the entire 80-minutes.
"They gave it their all," Northwestern coach Fernando Carrizo said. "They gave it a 100-percent and that's all I asked for. They wanted the revenged from the 2-0 loss at the beginning of the year.
"But they (Saucon Valley) were very fortunate to score the lone goal."
For the majority of the first half and a good portion of the second half, Northwestern presented Saucon Valley head coach Mel Moyer the challenge he expected.
"We had talks at practice all this week that Northwestern was going to be a formidable opponent," Moyer said. "We knew we couldn't take them for granted.
"We knew Nate Kester their goalkeeper was definitely going to be a challenge to beat. He had a great game. His punts were very dangerous. We beat him on one well placed shot. That thing was as close as it gets."
In a game that saw a total of 17 shots taken 12 by the Panthers it was the one taken off the foot of the Panthers' senior midfielder Shannon with 27:56 left in the second half that proved to be the difference in nightcap of a doubleheader on Salisbury High School's turf field.
"It was an amazing goal," said Kester, who finished with eight saves. "I was surprised he was able to put it in from that far out. It was a great goal. I have to give him props for that."
With no chance at hoisting the CL trophy on Saturday, the Tigers can start to prepare now for a chance at a District 11 Class AA gold medal.
"They know what's at stake now," Carrizo said. "They're going to be prepared (for next week). Our goal was to win the Colonial League. But, now, it's time to win a district championship."
Saucon Valley will play Southern Lehigh in Saturday's championship game. The Spartans knocked off Bangor 2-1 in double overtime in the opening game of last night's twinbill.