The Saucon Valley Lady Panthers are a very young team loaded with underclassmen. Yet, they appeared loose and played with mature poise and focus.
The Saucon Valley Lady Panthers have never, before this season, won a District XI playoff game, let alone competed in a District XI championship final. Yet, aside from some early ball-handling “yips”, they appeared business-as-usual and competed with their trademark determination and resolve.
So, how is it this mostly inexperienced team was able to seize the opportunity and accomplish this remarkable feat? Perhaps, credit should be given to the coaching staff and senior leadership for keeping the team consistently on point. Perhaps, we should recognize the team’s realization that District XI title opportunities do not come often and easy.
Whatever and whomever is the root of worthy recognition comes secondary, in the minds of most people, to the fact that the 2017 District XI Girls AA lacrosse championship belongs to the Saucon Valley Panthers. The Lady Panthers were able to seize the day and win the title.
Saucon Valley never trailed. The Panthers came out strong and dominated play, but struggled a bit to build upon their lead. Numerous shots on goal and scoring opportunities presented themselves, but Saucon had quite a few “just misses”.
Defensively, Saucon Valley looked very strong. When the Lady Lions were able shake a suffocating Panther defense and get off a quality shot, sophomore goal-keeper, Audrey Holland was on top of her game to either corral the ball or swat it out of harm’s way.
The Panther defense was mostly successful minimizing the effectiveness and frustrating the Lions top scoring threat Meaghan McMullan. McMullan, who earned 222 career goals throughout her high school career, was held in check to the tune of only two goals during the contest.
Offensively, Katherine “Battle-Kat” Naiburg was her tenacious self and able to convert for a total of four goals to lead the Panthers. Perhaps, no goal was bigger than her first at 24:39. Naiburg took possession just outside the 8-meter arc, drove hard to her left and came back with a precision shot in the upper right-hand corner of the cage. Naiburg grabbed the lead and set the game’s tone for her teammates.
Neither team could find net for the next thirteen minutes. Saucon Valley freshman Camryn Zavacky changed that, however, when she managed to get her Lion defender on her backside as she posted up in front of the Moravian goal and called for the ball. Naiburg cooly fed Zavacky who quickly turned and fired to make it 2-0 at 11:39.
Twenty-five seconds later, Naiburg was at it again beating her defender just outside the 8-meter circle and driving hard to the goal. “Battle-Kat” tallied her second goal of the evening at 11:14.
With 8:15 remaining in the first half, it was time for Helen Kreschollek to get into the stats book. Kreschollek used her size and power to beat the collapsing defense and register a goal that gave the Panthers a 4-0 advantage. Kreschollek’s goal convinced Moravian to burn their first timeout.
Stingy defense characterized the next four minutes of play, but at 4:04 Moravian’s Vivian Simone was able to break the ice for the Lions. However, Naiburg finished the first half scoring at 1:16. The Panthers were in control with a 5-1 halftime advantage.
Both teams struggled to convert and score for the first ten minutes of the second half. Meaghan McMullan finally broke through at 14:22 for a Lion goal. Her teammate Vivian Simone then scored her second goal of the night to close in on the Panthers at 5-3.
Freshman Salome Carr who has been battling a lower body injury stepped into the limelight and helped her team with a score at 11:30. Carr’s goal made it 6-3, but Moravian’s McMullan got it right back at 10:54 off a free start to make it a tense two-goal game.
The Panthers answered with goals by Camryn Zavacky and Helen Krescollek. Zavacky finished with delight off another sweet assist from Naiburg at 8:59. Kreshollek used her size and power to light the scoreboard again a little over a minute later to give Saucon Valley an 8-4 advantage with only 7:43 left to play.
The Lions Taylor DeCastro, refusing to go down without a fight, scored at 5:35 for Moravian Academy, but Kat Naiburg closed the door on the Lions when she smartly rolled around the crease and dunked to finish all scoring at 2:51.
The Saucon Valley Panthers defeated the Moravian Academy Lions by a score of 9-5 in the 2017 District XI AA Girls Lacrosse Championship.
Lady Panther Goal Scorers v. Moravian Academy
- So. Katherine Naiburg (4)
- Jr. Helen Kreschollek (2)
- Fr. Camryn Zavacky (2)
- Fr. Salome Carr (1)
UP NEXT: The Saucon Valley girls’ lacrosse team will represent District XI in the first round of the PIAA AA State Tournament on Tuesday, 5/30. The Panthers will battle the #3 seed out of powerful District I. The exact venue is yet TBD, but the smart money is they will play at Emmaus on Tuesday evening.
Good Luck Panthers, the Source is with you!
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