The Emmaus girls basketball team looks to turn around its misfortunes from last season that saw it go winless in the East Penn Conference and finish with a 2-20 overall record.
Even coming off of a rough season, this year’s team seems to have a bit more spring in its step than in recent years and appears poised to start turning things around behind head coach Kelsey Gallagher, who enters her third season as the team’s head coach.
Sal Pagano and Brett Poling were teammates on the Emmaus football team until their graduation in 2016. After high school, the two friends stayed together both in school and on the football field with both deciding to attend Moravian College.
They also added a new role as roommates and that’s lasted through all four years of their college careers.
The Emmaus field hockey season came to an end recently with a 1-0 loss to Wilson in the PIAA Class 3A semifinals. The loss was the first of the season for Emmaus, which finish the season at 26-1-0. Wilson went on to defeat Lower Dauphin 2-1 in a shootout to take the state championship.
Like most teams, Emmaus came into the season with plans for winning a state championship. For much of the season that dream stayed alive and the team stayed right on track with gold medals in both the East Penn Conference and districts.
There was a tough awakening though in states where the Hornets went up against District 1 opponent Lower Merion and left the pitch at J. Birney Crum Stadium in Allentown on the wrong end of a 1-0 game.
And the beat goes on. Make it 31 straight District 11 championships for Emmaus field hockey under head coach Sue Butz-Stavin, the winningest coach in high school field hockey history.
The Lady Hornets beat Easton 4-1 in the district finals to take home more gold and give Butz-Stavin the 969th win of her career, stretching the team record to 24-0-0 this season.
The Emmaus boys soccer team fought its way to a District 11 championship with wins over Stroudsburg in the semifinals and Whitehall in the finals. The win over Stroudsburg featured a combination of strong outings by both the offensive and defensive units, while the win over Whitehall was led primarily by the defense, which delivered shutouts in both games to get the wins to secure district gold and a trip to states.
It’s often said that defense wins championships. In football, coaches talk about the defense needing to be strong as the key component of winning. In baseball, it’s all about pitching and keeping the other guys off the base paths. It’s much the same in soccer.
A good defense can make up for any potential shortcomings on offense and keep a team strong enough to win a championship. Fortunately for the Emmaus boys soccer team, there’s a solid offense helping to drive the team, but wins begin and end with the defense.
With a strong feeder system, it’s not surprising that a freshman would have a standout season for Emmaus field hockey. It’s happened before and it will likely happen again. This season, it’s happening with Rachel Herbine, who scored her 51st goal in a 4-1 win over Easton that gave Emmaus its 31st consecutive district championship.
The last time that Emmaus (19-3) and Freedom (11-10) boys soccer teams met, Emmaus beat the Patriots 6-0 in the quarterfinals of the EPC playoffs.
Freedom downed East Stroudsburg South in the first round of districts to force the rematch with Emmaus in the quarterfinals.
While Freedom played a much stronger game than in the last meeting, the Patriots were still outplayed by Emmaus, who picked up a 2-0 win to advance to the District 11 semifinals.
In a quirk of scheduling, the sixth-seeded Freedom girls soccer team essentially hosted the number-two seed Emmaus last week in the semifinals of the EPC playoffs when the two teams met at Bethlehem Area School District Stadium.
Fortunately for the Hornets, the location didn’t matter and Emmaus downed the Patriots 3-0 a couple weeks ago.
In the District 11 quarterfinals, Freedom had to travel to Emmaus’ home field and this time around it was Freedom that came out on top with a 2-1 win that eliminated Emmaus and ended their season with a 15-5-1 overall record.