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Girls soccer tops Falcons

After opening the season with two nonconference wins, both Northwestern Lehigh and Salisbury came into Tuesday night’s girls soccer matchup with undefeated records.

The game played out with almost a playoff atmosphere as momentum shifted back-and-forth. In the end, Northwestern overcame a controversial no-call play that would have given the Tigers a penalty kick and turned in a 2-1 win over the Falcons.

Tigers head coach Kelly Bleam loved the style of play that she saw from her team. Being able to play the game at home and under the lights of Tiger Stadium only enhanced the atmosphere.

“It definitely had quite an intensity to it,” said Bleam. “It’s always a great game with Salisbury, two quality teams on the field together and certainly, when it’s under the lights, it just brings a different intensity to the environment.”

The first half of the game saw both teams get some looks at the net. The only goal came with 4:02 left in the half when a scramble in front of the goal resulted in Northwestern accidentally tipping the ball into its own net for a Salisbury goal.

Northwestern came out firing in the second half and sophomore Sophia Motolese blasted a shot from 30-yards out that glanced off the far post and came back onto the field of play.

Nearly midway through the half, Kylie Zentz came down the middle on a breakaway and was met by Salisbury goalkeeper Lily Schimeneck and the two collided. There was no call on the play and after a lengthy discussion between the referee and Bleam, Northwestern assistant coach Jordan Smith was given a yellow card for arguing the call.

The Tigers didn’t let the decision deter them and instead, continued to attack. With 9:08 left in regulation, Northwestern was awarded a direct kick. On the restart, Salisbury’s Olivia Hoeing interfered with the play, resulting in a yellow card. The kick sailed just over the net and the score remained 1-0.

Just 30 seconds later, Salisbury’s Kerry Seller was given a yellow card on a play that again resulted in a direct kick. Bailey Groff took the kick and sailed it past Schimeneck to tie the game.

“They did not let the no-call deflate them,” said Bleam. “The referees and their calls are part of the game. They’re part of the unlucky part of the game sometimes and they’re part of the lucky part of the game sometimes. I felt like we did a really good job keeping Salisbury from scoring and I was really happy for the girls that they were able to capitalize.”

With 3:42 left to play, junior Kayla Bardonner lifted a shot toward the top of the goal that went just past the outstretched hand of Schimeneck and hit the back of the netting for what would prove to be the game winner.

“My teammate, Kylie Zentz, tried to get a through-ball and it ricocheted off of a defender,” said Bardonner. “I managed to get to the ball and I lofted it into the back of the net.

“So far, we look really good. I’m really excited to see what the season is going to hold for us. We haven’t lost a game yet, so it looks really good for the future.”

Northwestern finished with 15 shots on goal compared to just one for the Lady Falcons, who fell to 2-1 overall and 0-1 in the Colonial League. “I’m really pleased that the efforts that my team put in did not go without reward, because truly we had so many opportunities,” said Bleam. “We had a lot of shots on goal, so I couldn’t be happier for one of those to finally go in to tie things up and then we got that second goal, which was just a terrific culmination of play by four or five different players that led to that goal.”

PRESS PHOTO BY CHUCK HIXSONNorthwestern's Emilia Blechschmidt brings the ball downfield during the Tigers' win over Salisbury Tuesday.