Tiger girls soccer makes D-11 final
There were no tricks for Northwestern’s girls soccer team on this Halloween. But there were some treats.
The Tigers were simply scary good in their District 11 Class 2A semifinal Tuesday.
Top-seeded Northwestern poured in six second-half goals en route to a 7-0 win over Saucon Valley to reach the final.
“We played really good soccer in the first half, had some quality chances,” said Tigers coach Jordan Smith. “Their goalie made some good saves. They really made us work for our chances, and we took some shots from deep and really our only quality chance we finished.
“We talked about a few things we needed to do at halftime. They did that and it opened up a lot of quality opportunities.”
Among the treats for the Tigers (20-1) were two goals apiece for both senior Katie Brensinger and junior Brook Balliet.
Balliet found the back of the net in the first few minutes of the second half on an assist from junior Paige Bissell to make it 2-0. Balliet scored again with around 33:00 left on an assist from senior Camryn Fitch.
“Tonight was a really good night,” said Balliet. “Our first half, we started off a little slow. We still weren’t playing bad ... The second half we definitely did a good job. We connected with each other. We were moving off the ball very well and we were able to find the back of the net. I just think that’s the really good thing, after the long break that we’ve had, it’s going to be good motivation going into the championship.”
The Tigers have been off since winning the Colonial League title Oct. 21 and receiving a bye in the quarterfinals.
Fitch hit the crossbar twice in the span of a few minutes after Balliet’s goal, and Saucon goalie Sarah Deibert came up with a stellar sliding save to prevent another goal from going in.
Freshman Kherington Yezik helped the Tigers keep their foot on the gas with a goal with 28:22 left in the contest on the second assist of the night from Balliet. “We knew Saucon was going to come ready to play,” said Balliet. “The first half, they definitely gave us a hard time. But in the second half, we talked about what we had to do, we knew that we had to start winning our 50/50 balls, anticipating the ball a little bit more, and just more movement and talk on the field.
“I think we executed that very well, and that’s what helped contribute to our success.”
After heading the ball off the post, Bissell collected her own rebound and planted the ball into the back of the net to make it 5-0 with under 25:00 to play. Freshman Sophia Schaffer had the assist on the play.
The fourth-seeded Panthers (12-5) recorded their first shot of the contest with around 25:20 to play in the second half, which sophomore goalie Olivia Reinhart was able to stop.
Fitch fired a ball into the net from at least 30 yards out to make it 6-0 with under 19:00 to play on an assist from freshman Alexis Kercher. Fitch scorched another ball from distance later in the half, but Deibert was able to make the save.
Brensinger netted her second goal of the game on an assist from sophomore Marlyse DeLillo late in the second half to make it 7-0.
“I think we knew from the beginning of the season that we were going to connect well,” said Bissell. “We’ve had great chemistry from the beginning, and it showed.”
Brensinger worked around a defender and fired in a goal from about 10 yards out to make it 1-0 with 15:55 to play in the first half off an assist from Balliet.
The Tigers got contributions from throughout the lineup - just like they’ve had all season.
“I said it at the beginning of the year before we even had our first game, that we were going to have a really dynamic offense,” said Smith. “We have quality pieces all over the midfield. We have quality pieces we can put up at our target forward spot. Come postseason, you need different players to step up, and everyone’s stepping up in big moments.
“We’re not allowing defenses to zero in on any individual player because someone else is going to show up. We’ve just been playing great soccer.”
Northwestern is seeking its fifth-straight District 11 title. The Tigers will face No. 3 seed and Eastern Pennsylvania Conference runner-up Allentown Central Catholic Thursday in the finals.
The Tigers defeated Central Catholic 3-2 to claim the Class 2A title and advance to states a year ago.
Northwestern has now pitched a shutout in 15 of its 21 games this season, which includes outscoring opponents 9-0 in two games to claim the title in the Colonial League tournament.