NW blanks Saucon to reach title game
nancy scholz/special to the times news Northwestern's Haley Kubat (right) beats Katie Burns of Saucon Valley to the ball.
SALISBURY TOWNSHIP Scoring chances were hard to come for both teams. The one that made the most of theirs turned out to be the winner.
After 51 minutes of scoreless soccer, Northwestern capitalized on two second-half chances to beat Saucon Valley 2-0 in Wednesday's Colonial League semifinal girls soccer game at Salisbury High School. The Tigers (13-3 overall, 11-2 Colonial League) advance to Friday's final where they will face No. 4 seed Bangor, which knocked off undefeated Southern Lehigh in Wednesday's second semifinal.
"Every opportunity needed to count," said Northwestern forward Katie Hallingstad. "It was difficult. It was a challenge, but we definitely capitalized on our chances."
Saucon Valley man-marked Hallingstad and limited the Tigers' top scorer to just two quality chances in the first half.
With 28:07 left in the game, Hallingstad beat a Saucon Valley defender to a ball in the corner, turned the defender and sent the ball into the box. The pass found freshman forward Sarah Jones making a run through the middle. Jones sent it past Saucon keeper Kelly Schonberger for the 1-0 lead.
"It was a lucky cross," Hallingstad said. "We practice that. I expected someone to be there and she was there."
Less than two minutes later, Cassandra Yost made it 2-0 when she sent a ball from near the top of the circle through the heart of the Panther defense and into the net with 25:29 left.
"Our goalie was screened and didn't get a good view of the ball," said Saucon Valley head coach Stevie Oshce. "One-zip you're still in it. Two-zip, we're still going to come out fighting but it's going to be a difficult challenge to overcome."
Saucon Valley (18-3 overall, 13-1 Colonial League) didn't generate many good scoring chances until late in game, after changing its formation. The Panthers' Sammy Marri did a good job shadowing Hallingstad and disrupting Northwestern's attack, however the strategy had a downside.
"By doing that," Ochse said. "We didn't create as much offensively as we would have liked."
Northwestern's defense, led by Seneca Tucker, Nicole Lach and Aubrey Kehs, limited Saucon and scoring threat Quanie Lightner most of the game. When the forward did get a few quality shots late in the second half, keeper Chelsea Ritter was there to make the stops.
"She played the most outstanding half of soccer I've ever seen her play," said Northwestern head coach Kelly Bleam. "I'm proud of her and I hope she continues do demonstrate that kind of senior goal keeping throughout the tournament."
Ritter and junior Kelly Boyd combined for five saves in the game. The two split time, each playing a half in every game.