Tigers qualify for States
WHITEHALL - After suffering a 2-1 loss to Southern Lehigh in the Colonial League semifinals earlier this month, Northwestern Lehigh had an opportunity for revenge in the District 11 consolation game.
The winner of this game would be awarded a spot in the 2011 PIAA state championships which will begin on June 1.
The Tigers understood what was at stake, and defeated the No. 1 seeded Spartans 1-0 on Thursday.
"We did a lot of things well, as did Southern Lehigh," said Northwestern head coach Kelly Bleam. "This [was] our third time with Southern Lehigh this year so we were fairly well prepared for them, as I'm sure they were very well prepared for us."
Northwestern gained a 1-0 advantage early in the game, which turned out to be the game's final score. Defender Emily Bartlett's pass was connected by forward Anna Fricchione, as the sophomore's shot found the back of the net with roughly 28 minutes to play in the first half.
"One of my teammates passed it to me. I can't recall who because everything happened so fast," said Fricchione. "I saw the corner was open so I just lifted it."
Neither team had many opportunities on goal in the first half, but Fricchione's lone goal was difference maker.
"Anna's goal early was absolutely a key before the fatigue really set in and the heat really had a chance to just tear the girls down we were really hoping to just get on the scoreboard," said coach Bleam on Fricchione's goal.
Southern Lehigh had several opportunities to tie things up in the second half.
Rebecca Lukasczyk's shot from the right side of the net bounced off Northwestern goal keeper Kelly Boyd and sailed over the crossbar with just over 24 minutes left to play.
After a collision with Boyd, Southern Lehigh's Courtney Long received a yellow card with just over 18 minutes to play in the final half. Despite the yellow card, the Spartans still had opportunities on offense in the closing minutes.
However, a shot on goal with roughly 4:30 to play bounced off Boyd's arms as well and the Tigers held off another Spartan opportunity.
Despite the numerous shots on goal from Southern Lehigh that could have tied the game, Northwestern held its ground.
Bleam credited the Tigers' defense for their victory.
"I think we defended extremely well," said Bleam. "I felt like we were able to keep the Southern Lehigh girls in front of us."
The win earns Northwestern third place in Districts, but more importantly, the Tigers have an opportunity to showcase their talents in the PIAA state tournament starting next week.
Northwestern will play its opening round game on Wednesday, June 1. The site, opponent and scheduled start time has yet to be determined.