Parkland edges Tigers to reach District 11 title game
WHITEHALL - Parkland was creating more opportunities and outshooting Northwestern from the opening whistle, but through the first 80 minutes the Lady Trojans couldn't get anything through the Lady Tigers defense and into the goal.
Head coach Al Haddad gave his team some advice before heading into overtime and Parkland's Liz Andrew's scored the game-winner in the seventh minute of the extra period.
"When we get the opportunity inside the 18 we were taking another touch instead of taking the shot," Haddad said. "We told them before overtime to take their shot, take another touch behind the defender. That's what Liz did and the goal was right there for her."
Parkland, the No. 10 seed, advances to Thursday's District 11 championship game against No. 5 seed Easton. Northwestern will play in a consolation game for third place and a state playoff berth.
In Tuesday's semifinal, the defenses dominated for both Northwestern and Parkland. The Trojans had four first-half corners and eight in the game, but none resulted in quality scoring chances. Parkland had eight shots on goal in regulation, but only a few good opportunities.
Most of the time the ball came into the box, Northwestern defender Rachel Kester was there to clear it.
Parkland matched the Tigers defensive effort, allowing just three Northwestern shots in regulation and no quality scoring chances.
"Defensively we are definitely peaking," Haddad said. "We are playing the best defense we have played all season. Offensively we have not gotten into out rhythm offensively all year, but we have a high work rate up there. They really believed once we got to overtime we would be able to get the job done."
Parkland increased the pressure in the overtime, maintaining possession and keeping the ball in their offensive third for long period before Andrews got a ball, beat her defender and popped a ball past Tiger keeper Kelly Boyd.
"I was playing the ball with my back to the goal," Andrew said. "I just faced up and I went to goal because I knew we needed a goal to advance. I figured I should just go for it.
It was Parkland's third 1-0 win in the three district playoff games.
Northwestern, which got the semifinal by beating Emmaus, 4-1, and topping Central Catholic, 5-1, is still playing as well as it has all season long. The Lady Tigers won the 2010 league title, but hadn't matched that success this season until their district tournament run.
"I find it a challenge to motivate my team the year after winning a championship," said Tiger head coach Kelly Bleam. "This year was no different. I think that loss [to Southern Lehigh] in league semifinals made us realize it's not going to happen without work. It motivated them instead of defeating them."
Northwestern has the opportunity to get revenge on Southern Lehigh, this year's league champ, in Thursday's consolation game. Only the winner will move on to the state tournament. The teams are 1-1 in two meeting this season as Northwestern won the regular season match up, 4-1 on March 30.