Boys fall in title game
Coaches of both Parkland and Emmaus don’t like the fact that their teams wind up playing each other a minimum of three times, and often four times in a season. The teams meet twice in the regular season and then usually play against each other in the conference playoffs and in districts.
Their third meeting of the season went much like the two regular season games, with Parkland coming out with a 2-1 win to take the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference championship. The Trojans were helped by the fact that they were able to get on the board quickly when Dawson Berger fired a shot past goalie Sam Cho for a 1-0 lead with 31:28 left in the first half. Berger later added an assist on a goal by Connor Morris late in the opening half to put the Trojans up 2-0.
“Those were both big goals,” said Emmaus head coach John Cari. “The first one, coming that early made it tough and then the second one really hurt. It would have been nice if we could have countered after one of those goals to go into halftime in a little better shape, but it didn’t work out.”
With 14:29 left in regulation, Parkland was called for intentionally pulling on an Emmaus player’s jersey, which gave Dakota Bauer a penalty kick opportunity that the senior converted. The ball sailed past conference all-star Jake Varrato to make it a one-goal game.
The goal seemed to fire up both teams and the final 10 minutes became a battle, but neither team was able to come up with another goal.
Emmaus beat Easton 2-0 and then downed East Stroudsburg South 4-0 to extend their scoreless win streak to six games. The Hornets played over eight hours of soccer between allowing a goal with 1:21 left in regulation against Parkland back on October 2 and giving up Berger’s goal in the conference championship.
The Hornets will have had a week off between games when they open the District 11 playoffs on their home field Thursday night against Whitehall. The Zephyrs, who Emmaus beat in both regular season meetings by a combined score of 4-0, went from having a two-win season last year to winning 12 games this season to come into districts as the seventh seed.
“As much as you want to win every game and you want to be the conference champion, districts is where it really gets serious,” said Cari. “You want to move on to play in states and you’re at the point now where a loss ends your season and there’s nothing left, so this is where we really want to be playing our best soccer of the season.”
With Emmaus and Parkland on opposite ends of the district brackets, they wouldn’t meet until the District 11 championship game on November 2 if they both make it past two more opponents to reach the finals. Parkland hasn’t won a district championship since 2013, while Emmaus has taken home district gold in each of the last two seasons. Overall, the Hornets have won 15 district titles in their history.
“As much as I don’t like playing a team that often in a season,” said Cari. “With the rivalry between the two teams, it’s always great to play in that type of atmosphere. That’s down the road though, because if you get ahead of yourself, you’re not going to make it to that game. So we have to just go game-by-game and not assume anything.”