East Penn Press

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PRESS PHOTO BY CHUCK HIXSONSam Cho is one of two Emmaus goal keepers that have combined to record 13 shutouts this season. PRESS PHOTO BY CHUCK HIXSONSam Cho is one of two Emmaus goal keepers that have combined to record 13 shutouts this season.
PRESS PHOTO BY CHUCK HIXSONEmmaus’ Alex Aiken guards an Easton player during Saturday’s playoff win. PRESS PHOTO BY CHUCK HIXSONEmmaus’ Alex Aiken guards an Easton player during Saturday’s playoff win.

EHS looks to extend shutout streak

Thursday, October 19, 2017 by CHUCK HIXSON Special to the Press in Sports

For the second time this season, Emmaus boys soccer team has a five-game shutout streak going. Overall, heading into Tuesday’s Eastern Conference semifinals, the Hornets had recorded 13 shutouts, 12 wins and a tie. For head coach John Cari, that’s exactly how he wants his teams to win games.

“Anyone who knows me knows that I build a team defensively first,” said Cari. “I’m confident in what I have back there. I know they’re going to do their job. I know they’re going to stand tall and if you’re going to score, it’s going to take an effort.”

The latest shutout came in the quarterfinals of the EPC playoffs when the Hornets downed Easton 2-0 to move to 15-3-1 overall on the season. Emmaus is seeded second in the tournament behind Parkland.

Throughout the season, Cari has rotated senior goalies Sam Cho and Seth Hetrick and the plan has worked perfectly. One of the keys is that both players bought into the idea and have accepted their role with the team, avoiding any bad feelings about not getting to play every game. Cari has been able to work out a schedule for the two goalies so they know when they’re going to be in net.

“We tried to do it ahead of time, a little bit on matchups,” said Cari. “In the case where Sam had Parkland the first time, so we give it to Hetrick the second time. We tried to set it up so the guys knew what they were planning for, that way there was no concern.”

The defense in front of the net has been very much of a team effort as well, with a group of players all contributing both individually and coming together as a unit to produce the wins this season, limiting their opponents to just eight goals on the year.

“[Thomas] Hanvey, [Callen] Reid, [James] Haag, they all did their job,” said Cari. “[Alex] Aiken, [A.J.] Febrarro, [Noah] Ross, I thought all did a great job defensively and [Daktoa] Bauer in front of them, he’s the starting point of that defensive job. I’m very pleased with how we did defensively and we’ll keep working at it.”

Just over half-way through the first 40 minutes, Bauer lobbed a high pass to Reid, who went up high and headed the ball past Easton goalie Zachary Tone to put Emmaus up 1-0. As time was running out in the half, Max Hirschhorn took advantage of a deflection and nailed his 10th goal of the season to give Emmaus some insurance.

“I’ll be honest, it was a pretty lucky deflection and I was able to find the far corner and was glad to get the result,” said Hirschhorn.

The coach saw the play a little differently and thinks that Hirschhorn, who has now doubled his goal production from last season, may have been being a little humble about the play.

“I thought he did a really good job of creating space for himself,” said Cari. “He took a good left-footed shot and I thought he showed a lot of composure.”

Cari is well pleased with how the team is performing, seemingly putting things together both offensively and defensively at just the right time. Hirschhorn believes that he and his fellow seniors are driven to succeed in their final season and they’ve gotten a lot of help from younger players who have developed well throughout the season.

“It’s been great,” said Hirschborn. “I’ve been playing with these guys since I was a freshman and it’s been really great. I think we’re improving every day and we’ll be ready for the next game. I always feel confident going out with this team, because we care about each other and we all work hard together.”

Emmaus will play East Stroudsburg South in the semis after the Cavaliers knocked off third-seeded Liberty 3-2 on Saturday. Cari wasn’t particular about whether he would rather have his team face a Liberty that it tied with this season or East Stroudsburg South, who the Hornets haven’t faced this season, but he wouldn’t have minded playing Liberty again either.

“I don’t think we played our best against them the first game and I wouldn’t mind having a shot to prove that,” said Cari.

For now, Emmaus will have to wait for a potential rematch in districts to avenge their tie with the Hurricanes earlier in the year.

The league semifinals were played after Press deadline. If the Hornets win they’ll move on to Thursday’s championship game against Parkland or No. 4 Freedom.