East Penn Press

Monday, November 19, 2018

Boys soccer beats PME to reach semifinal

Thursday, November 1, 2018 by CHUCK HIXSON tkress@tnonline.com in Sports

For the fourth time in two seasons, Emmaus and Parkland will meet in the postseason. They met in both the East Penn Conference and District 11 playoffs in each of the past two seasons, in addition to their four regular season meetings over the two years.

The teams are more used to meeting in the District 11 finals, having met in each of the last two championship games, with Parkland having won last year after Emmaus won in an overtime shooutout in 2016. This season, they meet in the semifinal round of districts.

Emmaus advanced to the semis with a strong showing against Pocono Mountain East, downing the Cardinals 3-0 and dominating play throughout the game. With the game scoreless at the half, A.J. Febbraro set up Eric Johnson perfectly with a crossing pass and Johnson didn’t miss, giving Emmaus a 1-0 lead with 36:57 left in regulation.

It took a while, but Emmaus added an insurance goal with 13:30 left when Thomas Hanvey dished his first of two assists in the game, getting the ball to Alex Aiken. Hanvey then fed Jacob Groh to lock up the game with a goal with just 3:47 left to play.

“It definitely boosted our confidence and boosted our energy level up,” said Aiken of moving out to a 2-0 lead. “We won the corner and Hanvey gave me a great feed and it was right there for me.”

“The first goal was good and we were really putting pressure on them, but anything could happen and they were looking to counter attack and if one gets through, it’s a different game,” said Emmaus head coach John Cari. “That was the one I wanted [the second goal]. It just gave us some breathing room and I thought we had a lot more confidence after that.”

The Hornets have had to piece together a lineup because of injuries but are healthier than they’ve been in a long time. Aiken was one of the key pieces who was sidelined as the team battled and he credits the bench with stepping in to fill the holes.

“We’re just gaining all of our starters back,” he said. “We lost three key starters, but our bench has played up really well and we’re still in it because of them.”

Goalie Aidan Connolly had to make just two saves in the win over Pocono Mountain East. Emmaus outshot the Cardinals 9-2.

Cari noted that of a roster of 24 players, at times, the team was playing with 14 healthy bodies. “It’s good to get some guys back and get them some minutes, but it was really rough at times. We got four bodies back and they all played well, so I think we’re going to be good moving forward.”

Parkland (13-6-2) and Emmaus (13-5-1) split their two regular season games this season with both teams defending their home field. Parkland beat the Hornets 2-1 on penalty kicks in the EPC quarterfinal game this year. Emmaus is the three-seed in districts, while Parkland is seeded seventh and has beaten 10th seeded East Stroudsburg South and second-seed Liberty to advance to the semifinals.

Tuesday’s semifinal was played after Press deadline. See next week’s Press for more Emmaus boys soccer postseason coverage.