Zentz hat trick propels Northwestern
Kylie Zentz knows how to finish. She also knows that you can’t be great at finishing plays if you don’t have great players around you to start the plays.
Zentz scored three goals to lead Northwestern to a 5-1 victory over Bethlehem Catholic in the quarterfinal round of the District 11 Class 2A girls soccer tournament on Thursday.
Wentz accounted for all the first-half scoring as the Tigers jumped out to a 2-0 halftime lead. She also accounted for the Tigers’ fifth and final goal.
“I pride myself on being where I’m supposed to be on the field and finding open spaces,” said Zentz. “I also have confidence in my ability to finish off my opportunities.
“But I wouldn’t be able to do that if it wasn’t for all the great plays my teammates make and all the great passes I get from them. They make my job easy.”
Zentz’s first goal came with 17:29 left in the opening half. The Tigers’ Olivia Motolese made a sensational run through the middle of the Bethlehem Catholic defense, dribbling around several players before laying off a perfect pass to Zentz at the right side of the net.
Her second goal came a few minutes later when Kayla Bardonner delivered a perfect corner kick to the nearside post and Zentz banged it home.
“Kylie always seems to be in the right place at the right time,” said Northwestern coach Kelly Bleam. “She moves extremely well without the ball and understands the game so well that’s she is always in the right position.
“Her teammates know where she is suppose to be and she’s always there. Then, when she gets her chances, she does a great job of finishing them off.”
The top-seeded Tigers (19-2) didn’t let up in the second half.
Bardonner scored off a free kick from about 25 yards out to make it 3-0 with just over 30 minutes remaining.
Jillian Fink made it 4-0 with 26:06 left when Bardonner sent in a cross to Lexi Bleam. Bleam then fed Fink in front of the net for the goal.
After Emma Carreras put Bethlehem Catholic (9-11) on the board with 19:04 left, Zentz capped her big night by following up a shot by Bardonner that was blocked and knocking in the rebound.
“Bethlehem Catholic might have been the eighth-seed, but we knew we would have to play well to beat them,” said Bleam. “They have some talented players.
“But I thought we came ready to play and executed really well. We got contributions from a lot of players. I was really pleased with our mental approach. We had a couple of key injuries, which forced us to play a number of girls in positions they aren’t used to playing, and they all responded to the challenge.”
INJURIES ... The Tigers were forced to play without Bailey Groff, who suffered an ankle injury last week in the Colonial League title game. Groff plays the all-important center-midfield position. In her absence, Bleam moved Sophia Motolese from her normal forward position into Groff’s spot. But midway through the opening half, with the game still scoreless, Motolese also suffered an ankle injury and couldn’t return to the game.
SCORING LEADER ... Zentz now has a team-leading 19 goals on the season.
ALL IN ... Bleam said every Northwestern player on the roster saw game time and made a contribution.
THE NUMBERS ... Northwestern had a 16-6 advantage in shots and a 9-3 edge in corners. Tiger goalie Naomi Glassberg made five, including a couple of impressive stops on Golden Hawk shots that appeared ticketed for the net.
NEXT UP ... Northwestern will take on Notre Dame of Green Pond in Tuesday’s semifinals at a time and place to be announced.