Boys soccer endures busy stretch
After the recent stretch of games that Parkland had to endure, three games in six days might seem like a breeze. The Trojans’ schedule had them playing five games in six days and they managed to weather the storm pretty well, but are a tired and banged up bunch at this point in the season.
“You would hope the state would start to recognize that playing 18 games in five-and-a-half weeks is a lot,” said Parkland head coach Patrick Birns. “They say ‘well, you can always play less,’ but that’s tough too. The last couple years, we played 17 and it gets tough. We played five in six days and looked very lethargic today,” said coach Patrick Birns after his team’s 3-0 win over Whitehall.
Birns has had to use some subs because of injuries, but mainly, because he’s doing what he can to keep his starters as fresh as possible. Conference and district playoffs begin later this month, so keeping his players fresh has added importance, but Birns also wants his team to be sharp going into the postseason.
“You do [start subbing more], and then, you start messing with the chemistry,” he said. “We’ve been subbing a lot more just to keep guys fresh, but it’s really not conducive to what we’re doing. Professional teams only play two games a week, but we think it’s okay to play four or five games a week. It doesn’t make sense. I guess it will be until somebody really gets hurt until they’ll start changing their minds and say ‘we need a longer season or less games,’ I’m not sure which.”
Senior Ben Jago has put together a big season and is a key to the offensive side of the team’s success. Jago just has a knack for being in the middle of the action and knowing how to make the most out of every situation.
“I was on the team last year and got called up my sophomore year and got to experience varsity soccer, and I think I kind of learned where to be at the right time and what to do with the ball,” said Jago. “Coach is always telling us that we need to play quicker and we learned from that. Playing quicker definitely helps us create more opportunities and the more opportunities we create, the more we’re going to score.”
Jago admits that the schedule gets to be a grind, but believes that the starters will be able to catch a second wind late in the season, thanks to having young players who can pick up some of the slack for the starters.
“It’s rough,” said Jago. “Our subs need to step up and play like the starters do, and I think they can. They have the potential to do it. We’re going to be tired and we’re going to need it. If they pull through and do well, we’ll be alright.”
Even though he’s tired, the senior who wants to major in business and continue playing soccer in college, wouldn’t trade the experience for anything.
“I’m going to miss it here,” said Jago. “The preseason is rough, but the actual season is great. I love it.”
Parkland (8-2-2 Eastern Pennsylvania Conference, 9-2-2 overall) finishes up the season with three games against division rivals. They play tonight at Emmaus (11-0-1, 12-1-1), who they played to a scoreless tie against earlier in the season. On Monday, they host Nazareth (2-7-2, 3-8-2) for the final home game of the regular season and then wrap-up the season next Wednesday with a trip to Whitehall (5-5-2, 7-5-2)