The Emmaus boys swimming team is coming off its seventh straight District 11 title, but has a lot of holes to fill thanks to having lost key swimmers to graduation. The good news is that underclassmen also contributed strongly to last year's squad, so those holes may be a little easier to fill than first thought.
The Emmaus girls swimming team has quite a task ahead of it. There is always the battle to catch Parkland and this season, the Hornets have to do it with a young team consisting of just two senior swimmers.
Graduation took away many of the team's top swimmers, but that doesn't mean there's not enough talent remaining for the girls team to make a run at Parkland as well as conference and district titles.
The two seniors (Tori Bingham and Claire Frank) are both quality swimmers who can provide leadership for the younger swimmers coming up through the program.
Last season, the Emmaus girls basketball team played with four seniors who were pretty well seasoned and had played full-time through most of their varsity career. Ivy Forstater, Miryah Palko, Drea Watkins and Beth Wiseley provided a lot of leadership and experience. This season, the team will be much younger and will have just two senior players in Jenna Reid and Ashley Petre.
The Emmaus field hockey season came to a surprising end in a 4-0 loss to Palmyra in the semifinal round of the PIAA playoffs last week. The biggest part of the surprise wasn't that the Lady Hornets lost, but the margin. It was the first time all season that they allowed more than one goal in a game and just the second time that they failed to score, with the other being a 1-0 loss to Stroudsburg in the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference final.
Coach Sue Butz-Stavin is in her 39th season as the head coach of the Emmaus field hockey team, so it's safe to say that she knows every strategy that works in the game.
That's why when she looks at her team, she doesn't recognize its current trend of falling behind early only to rally back as any sort of solid strategy. The team's latest comeback was a 3-1 win over Wyoming Valley West in the PIAA quarter-finals, which were played in Berwick.
"That's not a new strategy," said Butz-Stavin about falling behind early. "It never was in my book."
For much of the season, most folks thought the District 11 boys soccer championship would come down to Emmaus and Parkland. Southern Lehigh wasn't very involved in the discussion, but the Spartans beat both of the favorites on their way to winning their first district title since becoming a Class AAA school.
Southern Lehigh downed Emmaus 2-1 in last week's title game, with all three of the goals coming in a span of 1:39. It started with Southern Lehigh's Ryan Fowler firing a shot past goalkeeper Ethan Lang with 22:39 left to play in the first half.
While it's the offense that gets the lion's share of the attention in most sports, the defense often winds up winning championships. In picking up their 26th straight district title, the Emmaus Hornets field hockey team can credit its defense with having played a big role in the success.
Consider some of the numbers.
The Lady Hornets had a lot of motivation at their disposal and they used it all to beat Stroudsburg, 2-0 in Saturday's District 11 field hockey championship. The win gives Emmaus 26 straight district titles.
The two teams were both undefeated at the time they met for the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference championship, where the Mounties pulled off a 1-0 victory over Emmaus. It wasn't only the first loss of the season for Emmaus, but it was the first time all season that the Hornets were shutout.
Following the 1997 baseball season, Mike Mihalik Sr., resigned as the Emmaus baseball coach so he would have more time to spend with his son, who was a pretty good baseball player at Parkland High School.
Fast forward to the end of the 2014 season and Mihalik's successor, John Schreiner, left the program to spend more time watching his two sons play baseball at Northwestern Lehigh High School. Now, that young Parkland baseball player takes over the program that his dad coached.
The second annual Scheitrum Classic will be played this weekend at Emmaus High School. The girls basketball tournament opens Friday at 6 p.m. and the final game, which features the Emmaus varsity team, is slated for 2 p.m. Sunday.