Bombers fall in CL title game
CATASAUQUA - Palmerton came into the Colonial League playoffs as the new kid on the block, with last season being the first time they were in the league’s postseason tournament.
The Blue Bombers reached even higher ground this year when they made their first ever appearance in the league finals.
As fate would have it, they were playing perennial playoff member Southern Lehigh for the championship, and the undefeated Lady Spartans were able to wrap up their second Colonial League title in three seasons with a 4-0 win over Palmerton Saturday.
Neither team was able to gain an advantage early in the game, as they worked their way back-and-forth across the field. By the midway point of the first quarter, Southern Lehigh (19-0-0) started to settle in, and Brianna Stock poked a shot through a gaggle of players in front of the Palmerton cage for the first score of the game.
The second quarter saw the Lady Spartans start to control the tempo of the game a little more. On a charge toward the goal, Palmerton (15-5-1) was called for a foul in the box to give Southern Lehigh a penalty shot. Junior Lana Hughes, who ironically missed her only penalty shot of the year when the two teams met during the regular season, took the shot and beat goalkeeper Shannon Dougherty to put Southern Lehigh up 2-0.
Minutes later, Hughes would net her second goal of the game as the Spartans put themselves in command of the game.
“A lot of times, we have put our heads down once a team would score on us, but I feel like our team did a really nice job of keeping their heads up,” said Palmerton coach Lauren Salerno. “I am so proud of the team, all of them. It’s amazing to get a medal around their neck and to even be here is awesome. Obviously, we wanted to win but I am very proud of them for all their efforts to get here.”
As Palmerton looked to pull itself back into the game, Southern Lehigh’s defense looked to maintain the shutout, and was able to keep Bombers attackers from mounting any momentum.
As an exclamation point, Southern Lehigh would cap the scoring with 4:33 left in the third quarter when Iris Gluck played a pass off a corner and put the ball into the back of the cage to make it a 4-0 game.
From there, the two teams continued to battle, with Southern Lehigh continuing to frustrate the Palmerton offense.
The Lady Bombers now have some time to prepare, as they begin play for what they hope will finish with a District 11 1A championship. Their first round game will be on Nov. 3 against the winner of the matchup between Wilson and Bethlehem Catholic.
“We have a lot of time to regroup and work on some things,” said Salerno. “I think playing in a big game like we did today is great experience for our younger players, and even our senior players, because they don’t have a lot of experience in games like this. Our players have a lot of drive and passion and I’m excited to see where it takes us.”
... This will be the fourth straight year that Palmerton has played in districts, and the first time that the Bombers have had a bye through the quarterfinals. Last season, they were seeded fifth and beat fourth-seeded Palisades to reach the semis, where they lost to eventual district champion Northwestern Lehigh. This season they start play in the semifinals by virtue of their bye through the first round as the two seed in the 1A classification.
... With Palmerton set to play either Wilson (13-6-0) or Bethlehem Catholic (5-12-0) in the semis, it’s worth noting that during the regular season, Palmerton downed Wilson 1-0. The Bombers did not play the Golden Hawks, who are in the EPC.