Hornets top Trojans for title
In their three previous meetings this season, Parkland and Emmaus played to a scoreless tie and a 1-0 Emmaus win in their regular season meetings, along with a 3-2 Parkland victory in the league championship. Their fourth meeting was for the District 11 championship and a trip to the PIAA playoffs and Emmaus came away with a hard-fought 2-0 win.
The trip to states allows Emmaus to meet a goal that the team set at the beginning of the season.
“I thought we played hard,” said Hornet head coach John Cari. “I thought we played well and once again, we defended well and got the win. I’m very proud of these boys, they played hard and this was our goal the whole time. We kept saying ‘it’s about districts, it’s about districts.’ I’m super-proud of what they did this year.”
John Fritz headed a shot past goalkeeper Jake Varrato with 25:51 left to play in the first-half of the game, giving Emmaus a 1-0 lead going into halftime. Four minutes into the second half, the game reached what could have been a turning point when Emmaus goalkeeper Dylan Sosnow was given a yellow card and had to exit for five minutes. Back-up Sam Cho, who filled in for Sosnow when the junior goalkeeper was out with a thumb injury, stepped in. The Emmaus defense became even tougher and kept Parkland from taking advantage of the situation.
“Sam has some experience, which is a positive, so it wasn’t like I was just throwing a kid in cold,” said Cari. “Dylan was playing well and we didn’t want to see that happen. It was a far sight for me to see what happened, so I didn’t argue it, because I couldn’t tell. But we held on and didn’t really allow a shot in that situation.”
Within a couple minutes of Sosnow’s return and big save, Stephen Groh lifted a shot past Varrato to put Emmaus up 2-0 with 28:09 left to play.
Fritz went in hard on a scoring attempt and collided with Varrato, leaving both players on the ground. Play was stopped for the Emmaus trainer to attend to Fritz and the Parkland trainer also went on the field to check on Varrato, who had already gotten up. Because the trainer went on the field, Varrato was forced to leave the game, giving Emmaus about two minutes to face back-up goalkeeper Matt Lytle. The Hornets did not get a shot on goal before Varrato returned.
Fritz has been on fire in the postseason and has helped his team to reach states with his high-intensity play. The senior forward admitted after the game that he struggled at times during the season, but has found his way back in the postseason.
“Yeah, I think I had sort of a mid-season lull, but I’ve come out of it,” said Fritz, who has played so well, teams have had to adjust their approach in hopes of containing him. “I’ve been concentrating more. It’s playoffs and I’m a senior, so I just realized that I’ve got to step it up a little more.”
“John’s a fast kid and he had an extra step tonight,” said Cari. “I thought early on he was really dangerous. They made an adjustment to try to contain him a little bit and I thought he did a great job. He almost found the net again at the end. It was an outstanding effort and we had a lot of kids step up and he’s definitely one of the kids that did.”
The trip to states is the first for Emmaus since 2011, meaning that the senior class will get to go out on a high-note, which Cari is glad they’ll get to experience.
“I’m super-happy for these guys,” said Cari. “Ryan Paradise has been a starter for three years, Cory Ross for three years, Jordan London for three years and they’ve been there through some of the situations where we’ve been there and couldn’t get it done. I’m just so happy for guys like that, very thrilled.”