Parkland boys soccer gets 500th victory
The Parkland-Exeter boys soccer match up has been a common nonconference meeting in recent years under head coach Patrick Birns.
But unfortunately for Birns and the Trojans, the home team has come away with the victory.
So, with Parkland traveling to Exeter Township High School on Saturday, the trend wasn’t on its side. It turns out that trend was put to rest with Parkland’s 1-0 shutout to keep the Trojans (3-0, 2-0 in EPC) unbeaten on the young season.
Parkland also cemented a place in the history books when the final whistle sounded. The Trojans captured their 500th win in program history and are now one of four Eastern Pennsylvania Conference boys teams to accomplish the feat (Liberty, Freedom, Emmaus). A total of 27 boys squads in Pennsylvania have reached the milestone.
“I thought it was a pretty neat event to get 500 wins at the school,” Birns said. “It’s actually the second school that I was involved with that got 500, up at Delaware Valley in Pike County. I coached up there when the high school got its 500th win. It was kind of cool to do that at two schools.”
Birns didn’t want his team to focus on the milestone. He just wanted them to end the home team’s winning streak in the annual Exeter game.
“We talked about it before the game,” he said. “We didn’t even talk about the 500 wins. Just the fact that we wanted to break that streak. It was great to be able to do that.”
The Trojans’ first win dates back to 1976. Nearly 40 years and six head coaches later, Parkland is up to 500 and climbing.
Birns, now in his fifth season with Parkland, has accounted for 70 of those victories. He’s won at least 16 games in each of his first four campaigns after taking over for Chris Bleam in 2011. He also won nearly 100 games at Delaware Valley.
The Trojans have won two Lehigh Valley Conference (LVC) championships and one district title under Birns.
“I was fortunate enough to follow some legends,” Birns said. “The guy before me [at Delaware Valley], he was the original coach of the program, and he had over 400 wins. It’s very similar to here with coach Bleam. He had 300-plus of those wins, and the fact that I followed suit with him made it pretty easy.”
Bleam is Parkland’s most decorated coach in program history. In two stints with the team (the first from 1989 – 1998; the second from 2002 – 2010), Bleam compiled a 319-47-75 record. He guided the Trojans to seven league titles and seven District 11 crowns.
“I’ve enjoyed it and I still keep in touch with the kids,” Bleam said. “I think it’s great to see Parkland be competitive, not only in soccer, but most sports. It’s a real positive athletic culture we have at the high school.”
Head coaches Dave Weitzman (37-5-4), Dennis Krumanocker (34-48-48), Paul Stewart (32-30-10) and Dave Schaffer (8-0-11) have all had a hand in Parkland reaching the level its currently at.
But while wins and position in history books are certainly blessings, the history of the Parkland program has been much more than that. Bleam can attest to that.
“Probably a more important milestone is a chance to reflect on the years that the program has been going, and the thousands of positive personal relationships the kids have made with each other and families have made with each other over the years,” Bleam said. “Winning is fun, but participation in high school athletics is so much more than winning and losing.”