Boys soccer beats Pates
The Emmaus boys soccer team struggled through a rash of injuries that helped send it on a three-game losing skid late in the season.
The Hornets bounced back to win their final two regular season games and seemed to have found some of the earlier form that they had this season in a 6-0 quarterfinal round win over Freedom (10-9-0) in the East Penn Conference playoffs on Saturday.
The Hornets (16-3-0) opened the year with 13 straight wins before injuries sapped their strength. On Saturday, some of the injured players were back on the field for the first time in a while and it certainly came at just the right time.
Early in the season, both Jake Perry and Thomas Hanvey went down with injuries. Perry missed 16 games and Hanvey missed 13, but both were back on the field Saturday. They made their presence known on back-to-back penalty corners where Hanvey fed Perry, who finished the play with a shot past goalkeeper Matt Thomsen to give Emmaus a 2-0 lead almost midway through the first half.
The two goals were a turning point in the game, coming just two minutes apart and breaking the spirit of the Freedom players.
“It was great, especially since it was two guys that have been out for a while and were key guys that we looked to at the start of the season,” said Emmaus head coach John Cari. “I think the first two goals helped us to take over the game. I’m very proud of our effort today. Beyond the score, I thought we did a really, really good job of controlling the tempo and controlling the game. We took a team that had handled some very good teams and were able to take them out of the mix. We did a very good job.”
Andrew Gaines, who also had missed time, isn’t quite 100 percent but was able to play and added Emmaus’ third goal of the game when he put a shot past Thomsen, unassisted, with 7:09 left in the first half.
When the second half opened, Freedom was on its heels and Jake Groh scored for Emmaus less than two minutes into the final half. He connected again with 12:00 left to play, pushing the Emmaus lead to 5-0. Josh Whalen then added an unassisted goal to cap the scoring for Emmaus.
With players returning from injuries and returning to the field, the team is hoping to return to the form that saw it dominate through much of the season.
“We’re getting there,” siad Cari. “It was really great to get these guys get some minutes out here. We’re not 100-percent, but we’re getting there. We’ve really had to be very deep and we know that we can go a couple of kids deep off the bench and still play very well. I think we’re very close to getting to where we want to be.”
One of the teams that beat Emmaus down the stretch was Parkland (15-4-0). The two rivals will meet in the semifinals of the EPC tournament, with the winner advancing to the finals against the winner of the Liberty (17-2-0) and Easton (14-4-1) semifinal and the loser having to wait to play again until the District 11 playoffs begin next week.
“We’ve played two very good games against them this season and it’s not unusual for us to meet each other three or even four times in a season with the playoffs,” Cari said of Parkland. “Both games were very hard-fought and I’m sure this one will be that way, too.”
The win capped a successful triple-header at Memorial Field on Saturday. The Hornet field hockey team downed Nazareth and girls soccer beat Northampton, in addition to the boys team winning. The three teams beat their opponents by a combined score of 18-0 on the day, with all three teams advancing to the semifinal round of the EPC playoffs.