Despite loss, season ends on high note
The Northampton girls varsity soccer team ended their 2017 season last Thursday, Oct. 26, with a 3-0 loss against Easton in the second round of the PIAA District XI Championship tournament. Northampton finished the regular season 11-9-1 in a year that broke the norm for Northampton girls soccer.
After a 3-2 win over Liberty in the first round of the district tournament, the team knew facing a veteran team like Easton (18-4-1 in the regular season and tops in the EPC Steel division) would be both a challenge and a learning experience.
“A lot of this was new territory for us this year,” head coach Chaz Saul explained, as he talked about the lack of district experience in his young varsity squad. “It’s been such a long time since the team has been in districts, as a team, there was no one to look in terms of the experience playing at that [district playoffs] level.”
Saul went on to explain how a veteran team like Easton has “been there and knew what kind of preparation was needed.”
While districts were an unknown this year for Northampton, Saul looks at the team’s experience as a critical building block for the future of the squad.
“We didn’t have that kind of experience but it’s good for the team to have learned what playing at that level is like when you get to playoffs,” Saul said. “It will be good for the future of the program to be able to build on that sort of experience.”
Adding to the list of accomplishments and positive experience, Northampton made its first East Penn Conference league playoff appearance in recent history this year after just squeaking in as the eighth seed in a contest for the top-eight teams in the conference. That meant Northampton faced top-seed Parkland in the first round of play and was eliminated by a score of 5-0, but the very fact that the team qualified for the tournament was a victory in Saul’s eyes.
“It’s been a long time since Northampton was anywhere near district champs or league playoffs,” Saul said.
Saul went on to comment that the team hadn’t even set their sights on such lofty goals when the season began. The squad was more focused on coming together as a team and learning to leverage the strengths of each player.
“But once we started setting goals,” said Saul, “the team just kept knocking them down one after another.”
Northampton ended the season with two players named to the Third Team All-Conference for the East Penn Conference. Abigail Czarnecki received this honor after her phenomenal 11-goal season and Rachel Apsley was also recognized for her excellent defensive play.
Looking back, Saul had nothing but praise for what the team had achieved this year. Summing up the past three months, his comments drew a groundbreaking season to a fitting close.
“It’s a shame it ended as fast as it did,” reminisced Saul, “even though we played longer than we normally do. Obviously the team worked extremely hard and we would’ve liked a different outcome but I’m certainly proud of the team and I hope they are proud of themselves for all they accomplished.”