Boys soccer battles Blue Eagles to tie
Tuesday afternoon’s weather in the Lehigh Valley wasn’t exactly conducive to playing sports outdoors. The Nazareth and Parkland boys soccer teams found that out first hand as they played through soggy, slippery conditions and ended in a 1-1 draw.
Tyler Madeira put Parkland up 1-0 in the first half when he headed in a perfect cross from Ben Jago for the first goal of the game. Considering the conditions, it wouldn’t have been surprising if that edge had held up as the final score, but Nazareth got a goal from Ibraham Tounkara late in the game to tie the contest 1-1.
The weather affected the ability of both teams to pass as crisply as normal, which was especially a detriment to Parkland, a team that relies on pace and strong passing to set up goals.
The draw came on the heels of an impressive 5-2 win over Pocono Mountain East that saw the Trojans hand the Cardinals (8-2, 9-2) their first loss of the season, which was followed up by a loss to Stroudsburg that suddenly has Pocono Mountain East looking over its shoulders in the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference Skyline Division.
Jago scored twice in the win over Pocono Mountain East, while Justin Evans, Conley Hochstetler and Madeira all added goals in the winning effort.
Parkland (6-1-2, 7-1-2) is in the midst of a tough stretch of games. After that stretch looms rematches with Central Catholic, the only team to defeat Parkland this season, and Emmaus, which tied Parkland in their first meeting.
“We have five games in six days leading up to those games,” said coach Patrick Birns. “We’re not even thinking about Central Catholic or Emmaus.”
One key for Parkland this season has been the development of its goalkeepers. Sophomore Jacob Varrato has seen most of the action this season, but fellow sophomore Matt Lytle and senior Jacob Hayer are all capable of playing key minutes for the team.
“Our keepers are all showing improvement this season,” said Birns.
Senior Jake Stengel anchors a good defensive unit that has limited scoring opportunities for Parkland’s opponents. Between the strong defensive play and a group of goalies able to keep the ball out of the net, the Trojans have allowed just five goals through ten games this season.
With the season just past the halfway point, Parkland remains in good position for a playoff spot.
“We need to play with pace in the second half of the season,” said Birns.
This week’s schedule includes trips to Northampton, Conestoga Valley and Liberty before the games against division rivals Central Catholic and Emmaus next week.