Nolehi clinches CL fourth playoff spot
RON GOWER/TIMES NEWS Palmerton's Greta Hartsell, left, and Northern Lehigh's Kelsey Follweiler battle for ball in field hockey action at Northern Lehigh. In the background is NL's Casey Gavalla (16).
Palmerton and Northern Lehigh battled it out in field hockey on Thursday and it was a heated match.
In one of both teams' last field hockey games of the regular season, the motivation was there for both to pull out a win.
When the dust cleared, it was the Bulldogs who pulled out a 2-1 victory to clinch the fourth seed for the Colonial League tournament.
That alone served up enough emotion for both sides and Palmerton wanted to play spoiler.
"I tried explaining to the girls that it's difficult to psychologically beat a team for the second time in a season," Northern Lehigh head coach Jessica Frew mentioned afterwards. "But, we needed this win to make the league playoffs, so that was motivation enough, I guess."
"We definitely had the motivation," Palmerton's head coach Kim Seiler admitted. "We beat them last year in the second game and some of the girls on our team scored in that game, so they knew the importance of getting a win today. We also wanted to keep them from making the league tournament."
The visitors seemed to take control early and dictate play, and had plenty of chances to take the advantage.
"For the first 10 to 12 minutes, I thought we did a great job," Seiler lamented. "We kept possession and controlled the ball so well."
"Palmerton played a really aggressive game and we knew they would," Frew stated. "We tried to warn our girls that by the end of the year, every team is up and improved and that we can't take anyone lightly."
The mental trigger went off after the Lady Bulldogs saw the intensity in their opponents' play, and realized their fate was in their hands. In fact, they didn't need much time to take control, as they maneuvered the ball up the field and challenged the Bomber goal repeatedly.
Kelsey Follweiler eventually got a hold of a Kayla Brensinger pass and pounded it home for a 1-0 lead in the first half.
Palmerton came right back and the two teams took it to their opponent's red zone, before the first half clock ran out.
After intermission, the Bombers' aggression paid off, leading to a penalty stroke opportunity for Steph Buck. She pushed it past Nicole Horn for a game-tying goal midway through the half.
Northern Lehigh's mental push seemed to eventually pay off as it repeatedly received penalty corners. In fact, the Bulldogs ended up having 19 in the game to Palmerton's two.
Time after time, the Palmerton defense eliminated the Bulldogs chances of scoring.
"Defensively, we did a great job," Seiler admits. "They must have had about 20 corners and to only give up one goal is a tribute to our girls. "
In the game, the Bulldogs outshot the Bombers 12-4 and won outright when Kiana Bellesfield muscled in the game-winner late.
Palmerton still has a chance to beat its record from a year ago, if they win out over Notre Dame of Green Pond, Bethlehem Catholic and Pen Argyl.
Nolehi enters into the Colonial League playoffs and will face Southern Lehigh on Tuesday in the semis.