Tigers fall in 2 OTs
KINTERSVILLE – The last time Northwestern and Southern Lehigh met during the regular season, the Spartans prevailed in overtime.
Monday in the Colonial League field hockey semifinals, the Tigers and Spartans took that one step further, needing double overtime to decide a winner.
Unfortunately for head coach Lissa Opolsky and her Tigers, the result was the same as the Spartans walked off with a 3-2 victory.
With the win, the No. 1 seeded Spartans advance to Wednesday’s Colonial League final.
“Historically they’re (Southern Lehigh) a great team. They’re coached well. Some good talent,” Opolsky said. “So, we knew going into it, it was going to be a fight. Unfortunately, we dug ourselves a little bit of a hole in the beginning of the game. We didn’t play very well, adapting to what they were throwing at us.
“But then, once we settled in and got some footing, we were able to make some ground. It’s just a testament to our girls that they could come back from being down two goals and fight until there was no time left on the clock.”
Indeed, the Tigers fought until there was no time left on the clock in regulation.
In the waning moments of regulation and down 2-1, Northwestern was awarded a penalty corner with no time left on the clock.
Down to their last possible opportunity, the Tigers tied the game on a goal by Ally Meyers.
“We did a play that was designed for Ally, and she was able to get off a good shot to the corner of the net,” said Opolsky about the dramatic game-tying goal.
Neither the Tigers nor the Spartans could get the game-winner in the first overtime, but it was the Spartans who finally ended it in the second overtime.
“Unfortunately, it didn’t go our way, but I think it was a telling game of what type of team we can be,” said Opolsky.
It may be the end of the road for the Tigers as far as the Colonial League playoffs go, but the Tigers saw firsthand on the turf at Palisades High School what is needed to taste victory in huge playoff games like this.
“We talked about it after the game, just the whole idea of Southern Lehigh knows how to win big games,” Opolsky said. “We’re just getting to that cusp of learning that we are that good. We must learn to win in those big moments, and put games away when it counts.”
TITLE MATCH … For the fifth-straight year, the Colonial League championship trophy will be raised by either Southern Lehigh or Moravian Academy. Moravian Academy scored a 1-0 win over Bangor in the other semifinal game. The game will be played Wednesday at Salisbury at 5:30 p.m.
WAIT TILL NEXT YEAR … The last time the CL field hockey trophy went to Northwestern was back in 2003. Over the last 10 years, it has been handed to Moravian Academy 2017, 2016, 2015, 2013) and Southern Lehigh (2018, 2012, 2010, 2009) four times each, and once to both Northern Lehigh (2014) and Bangor (2011).
A BUMP ON THE ROAD … The CL playoffs may be over, but the Tigers are ready to rebound and make noise in the district playoffs. “We’re playing really good hockey, strategy wise,” Opolsky said. “The girls are obviously learning a lot about themselves each game, themselves as a team. We’re looking forward to the next step in districts, and just trying to go further than we did before.”