Northwestern girls victory was a true team effort
OREFIELD — Northwestern Lehigh has been getting contributions from players up and down its roster. The team has seven seniors, eight juniors, four sophomores and three freshmen.
In Saturday’s District 11 Class 2A championship game victory over Allentown Central Catholic, players from all classes contributed to the win, as the Tigers had to overcome a spate of injuries.
Senior Bailey Groff found out on Friday that she had been named to the All-State team as a first-team selection. Groff, who also serves as a team captain, scored one goal off a corner, and nearly put a couple other shots in from the corner. She also provided strong defensive play as the Tigers recorded a 2-0 shutout — their ninth of the season.
“She doesn’t get a lot of credit because she’s such a good defensive player,” said Northwestern coach Kelly Bleam. “I couldn’t be happier for her to be wearing that gold medal, and to be going to the state tournament, and that she’s an all-state selection.”
On the other end of the experience spectrum is goalkeeper Naomi Glassberg. To start the season, Glassberg, a freshman, and junior Lauren Terrell were splitting time in goal. The plan was to bring Glassberg along slowly to let her adjust to playing varsity, but when Terrell went down with a wrist injury, Glassberg took over full-time and didn’t miss a beat.
“Naomi is a very, very good goalie and has been training in the goal since she was a little girl,” explained Bleam. “That training is evidenced by her performance as a high school freshman. She plays a game that’s well beyond her years.”
Glassberg made some athletic stops in the game against Central Catholic, first deflecting one shot wide of the net and then catching another ball that appeared destined to close the 1-0 lead that Northwestern held at the time. The Vikettes had other opportunities that Glassberg turned away, making many of them look easy.
“I had to work really hard to get where I am. It’s difficult to keep going and keep myself positive, along with everyone else on the field. I just work really hard to play well for my team,” said Glassberg, who credited the more experienced players with helping her adjust to playing varsity soccer. “They’re really supportive. They’re all really nice and really help out a lot.”
Glassberg also has the support of her teammates, including Groff, who is known for her defense, and credited the play of her freshman teammate with helping the team reach states.
“She’s a really good goalie. She’s made amazing saves throughout the whole season, and is just amazing,” said Groff.
From the time that she came into camp with the varsity team, Glassberg believed that the team had the talent to go deep into the playoffs. The team went through the regular season with a record of 16-2-0, and then won the Colonial League championship, before adding the District 11 championship on Saturday. In all, the team has won 12 of its last 13 games, with just a loss to Liberty in their penultimate game of the season spoiling the streak.
“We’re looking to keep going, and hoping to win states as well,” said Glassberg. “We knew we had a good team, so I kind of expected that we would get this far.”
Groff was quick to credit the team’s work ethic, chemistry and communication as key components of its successful season and run for gold medals.
“I’m really proud of all the girls on the team,” said Groff. “We all give it a-hundred-percent out there and our whole team chemistry before we get on the field, while we’re on the field, and after we leave the field is there. We’re constantly communicating back-and-forth with a positive attitude, really encourages us to play well and I think there’s a chemistry among the players that really makes it special.”