ALMA – They’re back in the final four!
On a cool sunny autumn morning that was meant for high school sports the Northumberland Nighthawks used a solid team effort to outlast the Hants East Tigers 3-2 in a Division 2 girls high school provincial qualification advancement playoff game Saturday at the NRHS field.
The Nighthawks started sprightly, creating turnovers and dominating the midfield to create plenty of attacking chances in the opening 15 minutes.
The play for the opening goal started on the back line as Karleigh Avery sent a thumping long ball up for striker Sydney Adamson to run onto and the resulting rebound from the Hants East keeper came back to Jennifer Cooke, who lofted a shot over the keeper eight minutes into the game.
The Lady Nighthawks received a boost as Katie Walsh returned to the lineup from injury and began to find her form.
The second half continued the trend of a nail-biter and featured spells of possession by both teams but neither defence would break as the teams battled in the midfield.
At the 54th minute, the lead was stretched to 2-0 as a perfectly weighted through ball by central midfielder T-Anna Fraser sent Adamson in on a breakaway for a goal.
A corner kick in the 67th minute proved critical for the Nighthawks as Jennifer Cooke rose above the crowd, twisted in the air and sent a glancing header into the Tigers’ goal.
The Tigers pressed to the attack in the final 10 minutes and scored two goals on fortunate bounces in front of the Northumberland net at the 81st minute and at the 89th minute to make the extra time a bit dicey, but keeper Savannah Lees pushed aside the last threat from the Tigers and the Lady Nighthawks survived.
The two teams actually split the four games they played this season with NRHS outscoring Hants East 6-5 in the season series.
“I liked the leadership of our group,” Nighthawks coach Bob Boardway said. “They never quit on anyone and are loyal to all on the team. We concentrated on effort, courage, competitiveness, and the nobility of suffering and paying the price.
“Hants East and Coach Craig Sherry deserve a lot of credit; they were a quality team and a tough opponent that came to play every time we faced them this season.”