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Second-half goals lead to field hockey victory

Northwestern Lehigh played well in the first two periods of its Colonial League quarterfinal game against Moravian Academy, but the Tigers broke things open in the third period and coasted to a 6-1 win over the Lady Lions.

The win advances Northwestern to the semifinals of the Colonial League playoffs. Northwestern got its six goals from five different players, with sophomore Brooke Page scoring twice in the game.

Northwestern (8-3-0 Colonial, 15-4-0 overall) grabbed a 1-0 lead in the first period when Brynn Balliet banged a shot off the back of the cage just past the midway point of the period. The two teams played a very evenly-matched game in the second period and it appeared that it would be a 1-0 game at the break. Instead, Lauren Schellhamer slid a shot right along the inside of the goal with seven seconds left, putting Northwestern up 2-0.

As the teams came out for the second half, Moravian Academy (6-4-0, 6-4-0) seized control of the play and was able to get a quick goal just over one minute into the third period when Megan Dadio sneaked a shot into the cage to make it a 2-1 game. The goal only served to poke the Tigers, who came firing back at the Lions and took over the game.

“I think we were ready to go from the start but anytime somebody scores on you, you’re going to come back with a vengeance,” said Tiger head coach Lissa Opolsky. “I think we were able to settle down and settle in.

“We have a big target on our back this time around and I don’t think they were used to that whole idea, so just feeling comfortable in what we’re doing and knowing that we can play like that is a large part of what we’re doing.”

Just two minutes after Dadio scored, Page picked up her first goal when a ball deflected to her at the front corner of the goal. Page tipped the ball into the back of the goal to put Northwestern up 3-1. Tess Ledeboer and Claire Costa added to the scoring for Northwestern in the third period to push the lead to 5-1.

Just to be sure the game was out of reach, Page netted her second goal of the game with just over five minutes to play, putting Northwestern up 6-1.

As happy as Opolsky was with having five different players score, she gave a lot of credit to her defensive players for starting many of the scoring opportunities.

“It really starts with our backfield, Opolsky said. “They’re very offensive-minded and we’re able to gain a lot of offensive opportunities from them and then have it coming through the midfield with Reagan [Hernandez] and Ali [Lister] and they control it there and that leads us to those offensive opportunities. Those five different people get props for finishing it off, but there’s a lot leading up to that.”

To drive home Opolsky’s point, the Tigers also had assists from five different players – Ledeboer, Balliet, Schellhamer, Charlotte Horn and Brinley Rex – in the game.

The game was markedly different from the first meeting between the two teams earlier in the season when Northwestern downed Moravian Academy 3-2, also on their home turf.

The Lady Tigers, who are seeded third in the Colonial League playoffs, head to Bangor on Thursday to play the Slaters. Bangor is the number-two seed, which gives them home field advantage for the semifinals. Northwestern traveled to Bangor earlier in the season and fell to the Slaters 2-1.

Northwestern and Moravian Academy could meet again in districts. As of now, Northwestern is the top seed in Class A and Moravian Academy is seeded third in districts. The Tigers are defending district champs.

PRESS PHOTO BY NANCY SCHOLZ Midfielder Ali Lister moves the ball upfield during the Tigers' playoff win over Moravian Academy Tuesday.
PRESS PHOTO BY NANCY SCHOLZ Claire Costa controls the ball with a Moravian Academy player in pursuit.