Bulldogs eliminated by So. Lehigh
EMMAUS - Kristen Moisey was exactly where she was supposed to be. Because she was, Southern Lehigh is exactly where it's supposed to be as well.
After nearly 50 minutes of scoreless play, Moisey's follow up shot from in front of the net lifted the Spartans to a 1-0 victory over Northern Lehigh in the semifinal round of the District 11 Class AA field hockey playoffs on Saturday.
The victory sends Southern Lehigh into Tuesday's D-11 title game against Moravian Academy, a 2-0 winner over Lehighton in the other semifinal. It also guarantees the Spartans a berth in the PIAA State Tournament.
"Kristen is our leading scorer and you saw the reason why," said Southern Lehigh coach Adrian Searfoss. "She was right where she belonged on that corner and she took advantage of it to put the ball in the net."
Southern Lehigh has been a dominant force this entire field hockey season. The Spartans compiled a perfect 17-0 regular season record, outscoring the opposition by an incredible 55-2 margin. Despite an upset loss in the Colonial League postseason playoffs, which dropped them to the second seed in the Class AA tournament, most experts pegged the Spartans as the team to beat.
But despite the fact that it had dominated the ball possession and the field position, Southern Lehigh was locked in a scoreless tie with the Bulldogs as the second half clock wound down.
The Spartans were unable to solve a Northern Lehigh defensive effort that was spearheaded by goalie Nicole Horn.
"I was concerned because I felt like our girls were just going through the motions," said Searfoss. "When Northern Lehigh called that timeout [midway through the second half], I told our girls that they need to start playing with some emotion and urgency."
The Spartans must have been listening. Shortly after play resumed, Southern Lehigh earned a corner.
A senior, Moisey is the player the Spartans trust to put the ball in play on penalty corners. After feeding the ball in, Moisley broke to the net as teammate Michelle Moreira let go a shot. Horn made the initial save for the Bulldogs but Moisey rammed home the rebound with just 11:09 left in the second half.
"Southern Lehigh is a very good team, but every time we step on the field we believe we can win," said Northern Lehigh coach Jessica Frew. "I thought we did a really nice job of battling them the entire 60 minutes.
"Southern Lehigh is a physical team and they try to use that to their advantage. But our girls didn't back down. We hung with them. Unfortunately for us, they were able to convert a rebound on a shot Nicole [Horn] made a nice save on and that was the difference in the game."
The performance by the Bulldogs, who finished the season with a 13-8 record, wasn't surprising to Searfoss.
"Jessica [Frew] always has Northern Lehigh well prepared to play," said Searfoss. "She has really given that program a lift since she has taken over."
Southern Lehigh (19-1) finished the game with a 6-1 advantage in shots and a 7-1 edge in corners.
Although disappointed in the season-ending loss, Frew was happy with the year on a whole.
"I thought it was a good season," she said. "We had a new [turf] facility to play our home games at this year and I think it helped spark a lot on interest and enthusiasm.
"The goal now is to keep building that interest and improving the program. We're happy with the season, but definitely not satisfied."