NL drops heartbreaker
bob ford/times news Zeb Shiffert of Northern Lehigh (7) and Matt Schnubel of Allentown Central Catholic (13) battle for control of the ball.
In a game that takes place on a field over 100 yards, it's hard to imagine that a team's season could possibly come down to a couple of inches.
Such was the case in Tuesday's District 11 2A soccer match-up between Northern Lehigh and Allentown Central Catholic.
With just 22 seconds left on the clock, the Vikings' Matt Wagner scored the game winner, sending the Central fans into celebration.
Cian O'Connell fed the ball just past Northern Lehigh goalie Alan Sipos, to move the Vikings ahead, 2-1.
With the win, No. 9 seed Central moves on to face Moravian Academy, the tournament's No. 1 seed Thursday afternoon.
Meanwhile, Northern Lehigh's impressive run comes to a close, as the Bulldogs ended their season with a 10-9 record.
Early on, the fans discovered they'd be treated to an exciting contest, as the two teams battled to a 1-1 tie at halftime.
Channing Shiffert scored off a penalty kick for the Bulldogs, while Cian O'Connell scored to knot things up.
The Vikings held a small 8-6 edge in shots in the first half, but that didn't matter as the score remained at one apiece through a majority of the second half, as well.
Both teams' goalies were challenged repeatedly throughout the game, with Sipos making some brilliant stops for Northern Lehigh.
"We knew it was going to be a challenge today, here at their place," Central head coach Peter Car admitted. "Those last 20 minutes, though, I thought we did a great job of putting the pressure on them. At the end of the day, the kids have to make the plays and they did that today."
While the Vikings move on to the next round, Northern Lehigh has a strong season come to a disappointing end.
"I told these kids that no matter what happens, they have every reason to keep their heads held high," Northern Lehigh head coach Jason Reinhard mentioned. "What they've done here is magical."
Earlier on in the season, the Bulldogs stood at a dismal 3-5 and ended the season at 10-8, qualified for districts and clinched a game with home field advantage.
"No one can fault their efforts," Reinhard stated. "All of the seniors have sacrificed so much over the past four years. They're amazing players and, more than that, they're all amazing people."
In the contest, Northern Lehigh was outshot 13-10, while Sipos stopped seven shots on goal. Central's Skylar Strauss had six saves.