Boys advance to D-11 semifinal
Salisbury junior James Hadinger was inches away from tying the game at a goal apiece on a header in the first 10 minutes of the second half. His header, unfortunately, hit the left post of Saucon Valley’s goal and was eventually booted out of harms way.
When Hadinger found himself in prime position not even a minute later for another equalizing goal, he didn’t let it go to waste.
Salisbury negated an early Saucon Valley goal when Hadinger collected a ball behind the Panthers’ defense and positioned it past their goalie. Hadinger added another goal in the final minutes of Thursday’s District 11 Class AA quarterfinals that advanced the Falcons with a 2-1 victory at Salisbury High School.
In a do-or-die atmosphere, head coach Mark Allinson challenged his group coming out of halftime facing that 1-0 deficit. It didn’t take long to notice that message was heard loud and clear.
“We definitely didn’t want to let go right now, especially against a tough team like Saucon,” Hadinger said. “We knew we weren’t ready to leave yet. We put in the work tonight to play another day.”
“He [Allinson] definitely put in our heads that if we lost this game this was it. If we wanted to play another game, we had to put in the effort. I think that definitely got in the kids’ heads, that they didn’t want to let go of the season yet.”
Saucon Valley went in front on a goal that nobody could have envisioned. With a ball approaching the out of bounds line, defender Josh Snead saved it with a big boot towards Salisbury’s goal. That cross from nearly 40 yards out hung in the air and found its way over the outstretched arms of jumping goalkeeper Tyler Keller.
That type of goal could have killed any momentum the Falcons had.
“We had momentum afterwards, but some of us had our heads down,” Hadinger said. “But halftime came around, and we knew we had 40 minutes to score at least one goal to force overtime, or two goals to win it. We just kept in there. I give a lot of props to all of the players that worked hard out there.”
While the Falcons dominated the shots on goal category in the second half (11-3), Keller was tested in the opening minute from Saucon Valley’s attack. A deep Panther shot took a bounce in front of goal, but Keller was there for another pivotal save.
Salisbury then gained momentum. Zach Adams had the Falcons’ best opportunity on goal five minutes into second half, and Collin Holben fired a shot off the crossbar not even a minute later to keep the pressure on. Zach Adams weaved between a few Panther defenders less than two minutes later, which was followed by Hadinger’s header at the 30:43 mark.
All of those opportunities came without a goal, however, until Hadinger found some space in the 50th minute.
“I was just wide open,” Hadinger said. “I saw the gap, and I knew I had to get in there. Nobody was trailing me, and I knew I had to put it away when I got through.”
“There was a momentum shift,” Allinson said. “It looked like they switched their formation to a 2-5-2. To [Ethan Heydt’s] credit, he started to hang up top a little bit more. He was being marked by their best player. We end up pushing him into their defense and he can’t go forward, so I think that helped us gain some momentum.”
Both teams had opportunities with that 1-1 score holding for the next 27-plus minutes. But when Patrick Adams’ corner found his brother Zach in front of Saucon Valley’s goal, Hadinger was there to clean up the loose ball for the go-ahead tally.
“We just had to be patient,” Allinson said. “We really weren’t pushing the balls through like we should have. I think we got to the line a little bit more in the second half, and we were able to get the penetration to the line and get some balls across. And we won some corners, and that helped put some pressure on.
“James [Hadinger] came up big for us today. He had that header, and they ended up saving a goal there and kicking it off the side off of that back post.”
Results from Tuesday’s semifinals against No. 2 seed Lehighton were not available at time of press. The winner faces the winner of No. 1 Northwestern and No. 4 Central Catholic in the other semifinals matchup.
“They’ll be the best team we play on Tuesday,” Allinson said. “They have a couple of 20-goal scorers.”