Roda lifts Hornets to title
Emmaus seniors AJ Bishop and Ben Roda have been playing soccer together since they were eight years old. The chemistry the two possess on the field is clearly evident.
And during last Thursday's LVC boys soccer championship game against Parkland, that cohesion was on full display during the season's biggest moment thus far.
Bishop connected with his Hornet teammate early in the second half to break a scoreless tie, and Roda added his second goal of the game in double-overtime to stun the previously unbeaten Trojans, 2-1.
"Off the field me and AJ are best friends," said Roda. "On the field we work hard together. I know when he's playing down [and] he knows when I'm playing down. We both know how to pick each other up. We knew that if we could work together on the left side of the field and beat the defenders, we could do whatever we can."
The win gives the Hornets (15-3-1) their sixth LVC title under head coach John Cari and second in the past three seasons.
"It's exactly what I wanted to do when I came back here to win LVCs," said Bishop. "The next step is districts so we've got to put in a lot of work."
"It's the greatest feeling you can have to beat Parkland in the LVC finals," added Roda.
After giving up a Trojan goal with 5:59 to play that tied the game at a goal apiece, the Hornets sought to remain poised after a disheartening late score. A number of Trojan shots in the first overtime looked promising, but ultimately were just a few feet off target from securing the victory for Parkland (15-1-3).
And the Hornets responded in the next overtime when Roda found himself in prime position on a goal kick from Kevin Fine. All he had to do was pick his spot.
"I told Kita before Fine punted the ball I said to skim it off his [Kita] head and hopefully it slipped through the defender," said Roda. "Kita just skimmed it off his head, it slipped through the defender, [and] then I was one-on-one with the keeper. I stayed composed and I put it right past him."
The Hornets went ahead when Bishop who was honored as the conference's MVP prior to the game saw an open Roda in front of the Trojans' goal. Bishop's cross found Roda, and his header found its way past Trojan goalkeeper Jacob Gottwald to make it 1-0 Hornets.
"He played the ball to me outside, and I saw him making that run in," said Bishop. "I wanted to try to get the ball to his head, and he did a great job finding the goal."
Nearly a month ago the Hornets fell to the Trojans 4-0 early in the conference season. But Emmaus understood they were a better team than what the final score may of indicated.
"Coach [Cari] knew and the players knew that it wasn't a 4-0 game," said Bishop. "We knew we were a better team than that, and we wanted to come out here and prove that point."
The Hornets will look to add a District 11 championship to their trophy case next in which they'll open up play on Wednesday. The No. 2 seed Hornets will host No. 15 seed Pottsville at Emmaus High School for a 4 p.m. start.