Second-half rally helps EHS beat Parkland
Despite its sluggish start in the first half, there was no yelling at halftime from Emmaus boys soccer head coach John Cari. Instead, there were words of encouragement and a few adjustments.
It only took a few minutes to see how much different the Hornets looked coming out of halftime against rival Parkland.
Emmaus (11-3-1 overall; 10-2-1 in EPC) erased an early one-goal deficit against with two goals in the second half to defeat the Trojans, 2-1, last Wednesday at Memorial Field. It was the second of two Red Card Cancer games in which the two teams raise money for those fighting the disease.
“Knowing that it was a must-win game, we came out with low energy surprisingly,” Emmaus senior captain Alex Aiken said. “At halftime coach sparked us. He didn’t yell at us. He kept calm. All of a sudden that sparked us in the second half. We came out really strong. We scored one and then the second one was all me.”
Emmaus tied the game at 1-1 not even four minutes into the second half. After Parkland was called for a handball inside the box, junior Thomas Hanvey ripped the penalty shot by Trojan goalie Victor Baran for the equalizer.
“That makes a huge difference, tying the game up at 1-1,” Aiken said. “It gives us a lot more energy, and it makes our team think that we are still in the game and we got this.”
That goal swung the momentum to Emmaus, and the Hornets ran with it for the rest of the game. About 12 minutes later, Eric Johnson played a ball in front of Parkland’s goal and Aiken was there to head it into the back of the net.
“Eric Johnson never gave up on the play,” Aiken said. “He took the ball to the corner and he crossed it. All I saw was the ball; I didn’t see anything else. I attacked the ball and that was it.”
Emmaus outshot Parkland 5-3 in the second half.
Parkland struck first midway through the opening half on a rebound opportunity in front of Emmaus’ goal. After Hornet goalie Alex Tomasello saved a shot from Parkland’s Justin Douglas, Jordan Madise hustled for the follow-up opportunity to punch the loose ball into the net.
The Hornets, despite being outplayed for much of the first half, had two prime shots on goal late in the half. Jake Groh created enough space for a clear shot and ripped it just feet above the crossbar with 1:15 left in the half. Then in the final seconds, Aiken set up senior Justin Llado for a shot that once again sailed over the crossbar.
“The captains stepped up and talked at halftime,” said Aiken. “We said some encouraging words, and we knew this was a must-win game for standings in the future. We had to win this game. We came out with a lot of energy and looked like a whole different team in the second half.”
With two games left on the schedule, Emmaus (12-3-1 overall, 11-2-1 Eastern Pennsylvania Conference) was at the top of the District 11 Class 4A rankings and in position to earn one of the top three seeds for the eight-team EPC playoffs, which begin Saturday.
Emmaus finishes its regular season with games against Whitehall (Tuesday) and the season finale against Central Catholic Thursday at Memorial Field.