Early goal lifts Tigers over Green Hornets
RON GOWER/TIMES NEWS Northwestern's Sabrina Mertz controls the ball down field against Emmaus during Friday's 1-0 victory in a District 11 quarterfinal matchup.
Northwestern Lehigh sophomore Trista Cunningham lined up along the sidelines a little further down from the Emmaus bench ready to attempt a throw in with a little under eight minutes gone in their District 11 playoff matchup against the Hornets.
And that throw in wasn't anything ordinary.
She used the ball on ground to steady herself while completing a front flip before throwing the ball into play, a move that obviously allowed the ball to travel further in the air.
And junior Sara Jones was waiting in front of the Emmaus goal, and produced her third goal of the season with a nifty header past Katie Thomas at the 31:41 mark. That turned out to be the lone goal in the Tigers' 1-0 defeat over the Hornets on Friday at Northwestern Lehigh High School.
"Well we knew Trista had it, but lately it's become huge," said Jones. "It's like a corner kick. So in practice (Kelly) Bleam had us set up like it was a free kick so we were ready for it every time. We got a throw in on that side (and) we just lined up like it was a corner."
"I'm extremely proud of the team in general," said Northwestern head coach Kelly Bleam. "And I'm proud of some individuals who have really stepped it up in the end of the season, and just really have come into their own."
Although the Hornets had a few opportunities on goal, the Tigers - largely behind the play of senior goalkeeper Lorraine Feinour who recorded three saves in the win - kept Emmaus out of the net for their 20th victory of the season.
The Tigers had their share of opportunities to increase the lead throughout. After one Tigers shot sailed just over the crossbar with about 12:30 to play, senior Cassy Yost's shot on goal with just over eight minutes remaining was just wide left.
"It was certainly our hope to get an early score," said Bleam. "An early score was really important to us."
"We knew it was hot, and we knew we were going to run out of steam. And dealing with our injuries and illnesses, we knew we were going to be very short-subbed. So it was actually very much in our favor to get an early goal so we could be able to clock in some subs a little bit better."
It turns out the early goal would be enough down the stretch though.
"It gave us confidence, but we didn't let up or anything," said Jones. "I don't think for one second we thought the game was over so we kept playing till the end."
After their victory, Northwestern found out that Whitehall had defeated the number one seed Palisades, 2-0, setting up a matchup between the Tigers and Zephyrs on Tuesday.
"We certainly know that Whitehall is just a top shelf team, and certainly one of the class teams of the entire district," said Bleam. "We look forward to continuing our season and getting out their next week, and hopefully challenging our opponent."
"It'll be a good match," said Jones. "We've played teams like them. Emmaus is good. We played Parkland before. We can hang with them if we come to play."
Game time is set for 7 p.m. at Whitehall High School.