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PRESS PHOTO BY DON HERBEmmaus’ Stephen Groh scored the Hornets only goal in last week’s state playoff loss to Conestoga. Copyright - DonHerb                                               PRESS PHOTO BY DON HERBEmmaus’ Stephen Groh scored the Hornets only goal in last week’s state playoff loss to Conestoga. Copyright - DonHerb

Boys soccer falls in PKs

Wednesday, November 18, 2015 by CHUCK HIXSONSpecial to the Press in Sports

Most fans, players and coaches agree that using penalty kicks to determine the outcome of a soccer game is not the best way to decide the winner, especially in the postseason.

Unfortunately for Emmaus that’s exactly what happened and the Hornets came up on the wrong end of the penalty kick against Conestoga in the first round of the PIAA layoffs, losing the penalty kicks 6-5 and the game 2-1.

Emmaus had a chance to win the game in PKs when Mitch Sterkenberg shot in the seventh round for Emmaus, but his shot just glanced off the crossbar, keeping Conestoga alive. Ironically, the last time that the Hornets had a game come down to penalty kicks was in the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference playoffs against Central Catholic and Sterkenberg came off the bench to be the goalie in a winning effort.

This time around, starter Dylan Sosnow was healthy and stayed in goal, but was unable to stop a shot by Conestoga’s Nick Jennings in the eighth round and Emmaus’ Evan Charlesworth failed to put one past senior goalkeeper and Lehigh recruit Will Smith, giving Conestoga the win.

Conestoga went on to defeat West Chester Henderson in the quarterfinals to advance to this week’s semifinals.

“It’s crushing to walk away in penalty kicks, but I thought we gave a great effort tonight,” said Emmaus head coach John Cari. “I think we took a team that didn’t expect to get a game from us and played them hard, and took them down to eight guys shooting and that’s incredible.”

Emmaus had opportunities during regulation that just didn’t materialize. The first came with just over 13 minutes left in the first half when John Fritz had a breakaway, but Smith blocked his shot on goal.

The two teams continued their scoreless tie into halftime. Chris Donovan scored a goal just over two-minutes into the second half to put Conestoga up 1-0, but Stephen Groh took advantage of a penalty kick and blew it past Smith just six minutes later to tie the game. Another opportunity went by the wayside with 22:10 left to play as a shot from Dakota Bauer glanced off the post of the goal, bouncing harmlessly away.

“We didn’t have the prettiest game plan, but we knew we had to stretch them long and we had them frustrated in the first half,” said Cari. “We came back after they got their goal and found another one for us. I’m very proud of the effort and I think we showed that we can play with anyone in the state.”

Ryan Paradise, John Waring, Bauer, Noah Bacon and Noah Hislop all scored for Emmaus in the penalty kick phase. The Hornets were down a key player for penalty kicks because of an injury to Kacper Grycel, who was limping noticeably throughout the game and came out of the game because of the injury.

“For him to pull himself out of the game says everything,” said Cari of his junior midfielder. “We saw he was hurting and he just couldn’t give any more, so that’s why he didn’t shoot.”

The senior players on the team helped the school to two league championships during their tenure and added a district championship this season, earning their first trip to states. Emmaus loses some firepower to graduation, with 10 players leaving the team.

“I’m absolutely proud of them and how they stepped up,” said Cari. “Ryan Paradise had a great game on defense, John Waring played really well, John Fritz worked his butt off tonight, there’s no question what their efforts were. They came and had a job to do this year and they accomplished their goal. I’m sorry for them that they couldn’t move on in states, but they showed a great effort tonight.”