Like all coaches, Salisbury girls soccer head coach Rick Babyak doesn’t like giving his team the end-of-the-season speech. He’ll be able to put that speech off a bit longer this year than previous years.
Despite falling in last week’s District 11 Class 2A championship against unbeaten Pine Grove 1-0, Salisbury had at least one more game on its schedule. And the Falcons earned one more after qualifying for the state tournament via a 3-1 win over Dunmore, District 2’s second-place team, on Saturday.
For about a month, Salisbury sophomore midfielder Rylee Donaldson was relegated to the sidelines with a broker right wrist. The injury caused her to miss a good chunk of the regular season, and she was still not cleared for contact in the Lady Falcons’ Colonial League semifinals match a couple weeks ago.
After playing in two playoff games since then, including the Colonial League championship and first round of districts, Donaldson’s impact was felt most when Salisbury was in dire need.
Regardless of whether it was by default or not, the Salisbury field hockey team was playing in its first district playoff game last week since the team’s current head coach did it roughly a decade ago.
Despite playing one of the best teams in the Colonial League in that district semifinal game, Salisbury showed it was up for the challenge early on. A 2-1 Bangor lead at halftime certainly impressed Falcon head coach Meredith Makhoul in her first time back on the district stage, but the Slaters used a strong second half to secure the 9-1 victory.
The District 11 Class 3A playoffs may officially be out of reach now as the Salisbury football team enters the final week of the regular season, but the Falcons still are playing for something in Week 10.
Saturday at 1:30 p.m., Salisbury (2-7) hosts Southern Lehigh (7-2), which has locked up a district playoff spot itself in the Class 5A ranks.
The last time Salisbury won a Colonial League girls soccer championship was in 1996. By all accounts of anyone asked around the team and school, that was also the last year Salisbury was playing for a league title. To put that into perspective, none of the current players on the Lady Falcons’ team were born yet.
With a win two days earlier in the semifinals against Saucon Valley, Salisbury was on the cusp of its first league championship in two decades. Instead, Southern Lehigh had plans of winning its second league crown in as many seasons.
In some ways, Friday’s game against Pen Argyl was kind of a mirror image to Salisbury’s game at Palisades a week earlier. Salisbury faced the mercy rule early in the third quarter of both games, falling behind 35-0 in back-to-back weeks.
But in some ways it wasn’t. Despite falling 35-7 last Friday night at Salisbury High School, the Falcons showed much more intensity on both sides of the ball. Unfortunately, the result was kind of similar after falling 42-20 the week prior.
Following an impressive 2-1 start to the season, the landslide on the football field continues for the struggling Salisbury Falcons.
Salisbury captured its last win back on Sept. 10, a 31-21 road win over Wilson. Five straight losses for Salisbury has the team searching for answers with two weeks remaining in the regular season. The Falcons hope some of those answers can come to light on Friday night at Palmerton High School.
Meredith Makhoul recalls the playing days of her field hockey career when she suited up for Salisbury in the early 2000s. In her first two seasons, the Lady Falcons had qualified for both the Colonial League and district tournaments.
Since then, Salisbury has not tasted postseason play in field hockey. But that drought came to an end this season due to enrollment realignment in the PIAA District 11 classifications.
The Salisbury girls tennis team hasn’t had much success in the district singles and team tournaments in recent years.
But this year’s Lady Falcons have seemed to reverse that trend with their recent play in districts.
Salisbury football head coach Andy Cerco won’t make any excuses. But when ya team begins a game without its leading rusher and a few other players, then loses a number of other offensive weapons mid-game, the task gets a bit more difficult.
Regardless of who was and was not on the field on Friday night against Palisades, Salisbury put forth a performance that Cerco wasn’t pleased with. And it started just seconds into the game.