Nov. 8—PLAINS TWP. — Holy Redeemer felt pretty good how the first half played out Tuesday night, answering a Northwestern Lehigh goal quickly.
The good feeling slowly eroded in the second half as Northwestern Lehigh wrestled away control for a 5-1 victory in a PIAA Class 2A girls soccer first round game at Wilkes-Barre Area High School.
District 11 champ Northwestern Lehigh (22-1) ended District 2 champ Holy Redeemer's season at the same point last year. The Royals finished their season at 19-3. Northwestern Lehigh will play District 3 champion Trinity (18-3) on Saturday in the quarterfinals.
Two factors played significant roles in the Tigers breaking a 1-1 deadlock at halftime. First, they were able to use a strong end-to-end wind to pick up the tempo. Secondly, they slowed down Redeemer counterattack, which led to several dangerous situations in the initial 40 minutes.
"First half, we were getting the 50-50 balls and challenging," Redeemer coach Robert Hughes said. "Second half, we sort of pulled up a little bit. They were more aggressive getting to those loose balls. We had some problems on corner kicks marking. You let a girl have a free run in there at this level, you're giving up goals."
Northwestern Lehigh took a 1-0 lead with just over 12 minutes left in the first half as Sophia Schaffer grounded in a crossing pass from Kherington Yezik. Redeemer, though, answered about five minutes later. Avery Chepolis sent a perfect corner kick to Isabella Granteed, who knotted the score 1-1.
Granteed had several strong runs in the first half, using her speed to beat defenders. That changed in the second half as Northwestern Lehigh played special attention to the senior captain and defender Syenna Flores never let her drift too far away.
"It looked like they were double marking her most of the second half," Hughes said. "Every time she was by the 18, there were two girls constantly on her. Their defense played more back in the second half."
The wind then helped the Tigers play a style they prefer.
"We got the wind at our backs a little bit," Northwestern Lehigh coach Jordan Smith said. "I think that helped calm them down a little bit. We're an uptempo team and we were able to play that way."
Yezik scored six minutes into the second half and Brook Balliet followed with a goal about four minutes later for a 3-1 lead. Granteed forced a diving save less than a minute after Balliet's goal, but Camryn Fitch finished off a corner kick for a 4-1 advantage as the Tigers scored three goals in an eight-minute window.
Redeemer's Avery Kozerski, Elyse Kunec and Chepolis challenged the defense over the final 20 minutes. Kozerski and Kunec had their shots saved, while Chepolis' sailed just over the crossbar.
PIAA Class 2A First Round
Northwestern Lehigh 5, Holy Redeemer 1
Northwestern Lehigh'1'4 — 5
Holy Redeemer'1'0 — 1
First Half: 1. NL, Sophia Schaffer (Kherington Yezik), 27:35; 2. HR, Isabella Granteed (Avery Chepolis), 32:34; Second Half: 3. NL, Yezik (Camryn Fitch), 46:07; 4. NL, Brook Balliet (Kate Brensinger), 50:18; 5. NL, Fitch (Schaffer), 53:48; 6. NL, Balliet (Fitch), 70:46.
Shots: NL 14, HR 15, Saves: NL 8 (Olivia Reinhart), HR 7 (Amira Pirrone). Corners: NL 4, HR 1.