Northwestern edges Blue Bombers
Palmerton’s Emily Recker battles Lauren Schellhamer of Northwestern for possession of the ball during Wednesday’s district playoff game. For a photo gallery, visit www.tnonline.com. BOB FORD/TIMES NEWS
While it admittedly didn’t play its best game of the season, Northwestern, which who entered the tournament seeded second, was able to get past seventh-seeded Palmerton 1-0 Wednesday night in the District 11 Cass 1A field hockey quarterfinals.
Both teams struggled their way through the first half, with neither team able to muster a shot on goal. There was also just one penalty corner, which was awarded to Palmerton midway through the half.
The second half started much like the first half, but picked up slightly in intensity as the game went on.
With 18:34 left in the game, Northwestern (13-4) had its third penalty corner of the game and this time took advantage of the opportunity. Lauren Schellhamer found herself with an open shot and put it into the cage for the game’s lone score.
“I had played the ball off of the defender and I thought there was going to be another foul, but she didn’t blow the whistle, so I just kept going and I was able to find the back of the net and put it in,” said Schellhamer.
Northwestern advances to the semifinals where it will face Saucon Valley, who defeated Palisades 1-0 in another quarterfinal game.
The task now for the Tigers is to regroup and come out with a more cohesive effort in the semis than they showed in the quarterfinal game.
“I think we will,” said Schellhamer about her team coming out stronger in their next game. “Palmerton was a really skilled team and if we come back together, we can find that place again and get back on a roll. We really want to keep moving forward and get back to the district championship and win it this year.”
Last season, Northwestern surprised a number of other teams by advancing to the District 11 finals as the No. 7 seed. Coming in this season as the No. 2 seed puts them in unfamiliar territory.
“We haven’t been seeded this high in a really long time and these players in particular haven’t had that experience before, so we’ll draw on the experience of playing in the championship game last year and what did that feel like, said coach Lissa Opolsky. “We didn’t come out on top in that game, but we remember the feeling of being there and we have to settle in and get that feeling back.”
Opolsky admitted that her team wasn’t playing at their highest level, which she has seen on a couple occasions this season.
“I think it was a combination of pre-game jitters and just not firing on all cylinders for whatever reason,” said Opolsky. “But a win is a win at this point in the season, so I’m happy about that. We’ll go back to practice and get back on our feet. We’ve been here before where we’ve had not so good of a half or a game and they’ve always bounced back from it,
“I’m confident in what they’re able to do. It’s just a matter of getting everybody going in the right direction and we’re more than capable of that, so it shouldn’t be a problem.”
MONDAY... Northwestern and Saucon Valley will play their semifinal game Monday. The time and location of the game hasn’t been determined.
DEFENSE DOMINATES ... When all was said and done, Palmerton (9-9) finished with five penalty corners and just one shot on goal, while the Tigers had four penalty corners and two shots on goal.