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Girls soccer blanks Blue Raiders

Opportunities create better odds to win.

And Northwestern created ample opportunities during the District 11 Class 2A girls soccer quarterfinals on Tuesday night.

Northwestern fired 32 shots en route to a 5-0 victory over Northern Lehigh.

“Our game plan was to get a lot of shots and get them early, before the opposing team was able to shut down our shooting opportunities,” said Northwestern head coach Kelly Bleam. “That was pretty much everything coming into it.”

The No. 1 seed Tigers (16-2-1) relentlessly applied pressure early and often. Northwestern finally broke through with 7:26 remaining in the first half. After about eight shots, Maggie Motolese sent in a corner that got bounced around in the box, and Jessica Williamson sent it home from close range.

After chipping away at the ice, Williamson broke it before Motolese and Bailey Groff added first-half goals before. Northwestern racked up 10 shots by intermission.

“Fresh off a loss in the league playoffs was tough on us,” said Williamson. “But we just focused in practice and put the past behind us. We just really honed in, and instead of focusing on our opponent, we focused on what we needed to do to get it done. I think we accomplished that pretty well.”

It was more of the same after halftime for the Tigers. Sarah Hathaway struck gold about five minutes into action.

“It was amazing,” said Hathaway of the win. “Unfortunately, we did have Kayla (Bardonner) get a really bad injury and hopefully she is OK. But it was really important for us to get this win because it allows us to go on and keep our season going.”

Tamaqua (8-10-1), the No. 8 seed, perhaps posed its only real threat with 9:30 left to play when Shanna Brinkworth launched a well-shot free kick into the Tigers’ box, but nobody was home for the Raiders.

Northwestern’s Catherine Willis put the game away with just over five minutes left. Her goal marked shot No. 25 for the Tigers.

“We didn’t know a lot about Tamaqua,” Bleam said. “So I was please with the way the girls executed today with what we did go over. Hopefully we can move and build; move forward and build on what we did today.”

There was a stoppage in play during the second half when Tigers’ freshman Kayla Bardonner went down with a lower body injury. “We have several people who are going to send updates tonight about Kayla’s condition from the hospital,” Bleam said. “I think the girls, right after the injury, were real set on pulling together to try and collect things to try and get the energy level up. It was a pretty disheartening, pretty disturbing injury I think we can all agree on that. But I think we’ll be OK tomorrow. We’ll get together, get refocused, and prepare for our game on Thursday.”

Northwestern will square off with Pine Grove on Thursday at Lehighton, 5 p.m.

PRESS PHOTO BY RON GOWERNorthwestern's Jenna Lowthert (28) tracks down a Tamaqua ball handler during Tuesday's District 11 Class 2A quarterfinal win over the Blue Raiders.