As the Whitehall field hockey team heads into the postseason, they’ll be relying on the strength of a strong senior class to help them advance through a tough field of competitors.
Two of those seniors who will help them hopefully navigate upward through the brackets in pursuit of a district championship are Joyce Lu and Hallie Kern. The two defenders have been paired together since seventh grade. I guess it’s safe to say that they’re joined at the stick.
Week seven didn’t bring many surprises to the table, outside of Easton continuing to crumble with the real part of their schedule in tow.
Freedom stays on top after a record passing night by quarterback Jared Jenkins, as the top three teams seem to be cemented now until the end of the regular season, barring upsets.
Central Catholic preps for the postseason, while Northwestern looks to continue its quest for the Colonial League crown.
With Week 9 on the horizon, here are this week’s picks.
1. Freedom (7-1)
Last week’s rank: #1
After his team participated in the East Penn Conference (EPC) cross country meet at DeSales University Tuesday, Whitehall head coach Mike Lelko was having all of his runners take ice baths the following day.
Some may have been for rewards, while others may have been for the injuries. They were as a result of the current state of both teams.
Overall, the girls finished 12th out of 14 teams, and the boys were 13th in the 18-team field.
“We did about what I expected,” said Lelko. “Our girls have been battling through some injuries, and our boys continue to grow.”
The Whitehall girls tennis season ended at Lehigh University on Monday after both doubles teams weren’t able to advance past the first round in the district tournament.
The Zephyrs qualified two teams this season for the District XI 3A Girls Doubles Championship as Natalia Pedraza and Noel Yacoub comprised one team, while Heylee Chan and Emily Tran were the other entrants.
Pedraza and Yacoub drew Southern Lehigh’s Michelle Li and Kayla Lebby.
In their season opener, the Phantoms had a bunch of near-misses when it came to shots. The team’s chemistry looked a little off as a number of new faces, many of them young, inexperienced pro players, tried to fit together into a cohesive unit.
They quickly put the opening 3-0 shutout to Providence aside and came out firing against Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. The result was a 4-1 win, which they followed up with an overtime loss to another rival, the Hershey Bears.
The EPC announced playoff matchups for soccer and field hockey on Thursday.
In boys soccer, Liberty gets the top seed and a home game against Eastburg South, the 8 seed, on Saturday at 12 p.m.. The winner gets Easton (4) or Stroudsburg (5), who play Saturday in Easton at 10 a.m.
On the bottom of the bracket, Emmaus gets the two seed and hosts seventh-seeded Freedom, last year’s District 11 champs. That game is 2:15 p.m. Saturday with the winner playing the Parkland (3)-Whitehall (6) winner. The Trojans and Zephs play at 2 p.m. Saturday at Parkland.
The Lehigh Valley Phantoms finished up their preseason schedule Monday night at the PPL Center, falling to the Hershey Bears 2-0. Both teams finished the preseason with identical 2-1-0-0 records and look to open the regular season this weekend. For Lehigh Valley, the opener comes at home against Providence Saturday night.
Some fall sports postseasons are already under way as the golf and tennis got a head start.
In tennis, the District 11 singles tournament started Monday. Noel Yacoub and Natalia Pedraza took part but both lost in their opening round matches.
Pedraza didn’t make it easy on her opponent though, taking the first set 6-4 before falling in set two by the same 6-4 score. The third set didn’t end until Freedom’s Isabella Szmodis came out an 11-9 winner.
Yacoub had a tough draw against the nine-seed, Southern Lehigh’s Evelyn Wang, and lost 6-2, 6-0.
Last week we saw Nazareth fall for the first time this season. Was it the eventual slip that most teams in the EPC face, or are there cracks in the foundation?
The lone EPC team to remain undefeated is Easton following its win over Central Catholic over the weekend, but the Rovers haven’t been truly tested yet.
That changes this week with Freedom coming to town.
Parkland’s win over the Blue Eagles could be a sign they’re gearing up at the right time, while the Colonial League battle between Southern Lehigh and Northwestern could decide the league crown.
On Saturday, Sept. 28, the Whitehall football team took on Bethlehem Catholic at BASD Stadium.
Whitehall (0-6) quickly fell behind after a couple big plays by Bethlehem Catholic’s myriad of skill players. Whitehall’s senior running back Ali Barkley carried the ball several times for the Zephyrs, but could not find running room all day.