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Long’s late goal lifts Bombers

Palmerton and Northwestern clashed in the first round of the Colonial League playoffs on Monday night, with each team hoping to advance and earn a matchup with Moravian Academy in Wednesday’s semifinals.

The third-seeded Bombers and sixth-seeded Tigers battled in a tightly-contested game that saw Palmerton pull out a 2-1 victory, with the game-winner coming in the final minutes.

The first quarter saw no scoring, but plenty of offensive pressure from Palmerton.

The scoring finally opened up in the second quarter as Northwestern struck first with a goal from senior Brynn Balliet.

Palmerton answered back quickly as sophomore Skylar Kohler tied the game 1-1.

The Bombers again stayed on the attack for most of the quarter and would earn multiple corners, but could not manage to find another goal, sending the game into halftime knotted at one.

The third quarter saw a lot of the same from Palmerton with a heavy offensive attack, and a lot of goal-scoring opportunities that came up empty.

Northwestern also started to push back with some offensive runs of its own, but the game headed to the fourth quarter with both sides still looking for the go-ahead tally.

“Our opportunities on offense came out of our counter attack, and we could have sustained our offense a little bit better, but I think we had our fair share of opportunities, but we weren’t able to capitalize.” said Northwestern head coach Lissa Opolsky.

The fourth quarter saw Palmerton with more goal-scoring opportunities than it had in any of the previous three frames, as the Bombers earned loads of corners, and even had a penalty stroke at the 4:04 mark. That chance was saved by Tigers junior goalkeeper Gabrielle Gober.

“We hit the post four times, and all four times were beautiful shots. I think those hitting the post gave them more of a drive to get the ball in the goal,” said Palmerton coach Lauren Salerno.

Although the saved penalty slightly deflated Palmerton, it stayed on the attack. After a number of close calls, the Bombers finally found the goal they had been so close to all night when freshman Mackenzie Long found the back of the cage to give her team the lead with just 2:12 left to play in regulation.

“It was insane,” said Long. “I hit from the top of the circle, and I believe it went to the far left corner.”

Palmerton’s defense held on for the remaining time and the Bombers - who appeared in control most of the night - grabbed the win.

“I felt that our communication, and our passing and working as a team was on tonight,” said Salerno.

SEMIFINAL MATCHUP … Palmerton will face off with second-seeded Moravian Academy in the semis at Salisbury at 5 p.m. on Wednesday. “We’re excited; they’re a good team, so they’re going to come to play, and hopefully we come to play as well,” said Salerno.

NEXT FOR THE TIGERS ... Northwestern will now turn its sights toward districts. “We have about a week-and-a-half of practice, so we’ll be looking to do some of the things we didn’t do so well here, and just kind of get people as much experience as possible, and then we’ll give it a try again,” said Opolsky.

Palmerton's Emma Christman (right) controls the ball on her stick as Northwestern's Brinley Rex stretches in an attempt to knock it away. NANCY SCHOLZ/SPECIAL TO THE TIMES NEWS