Boys fall to Conestoga in state soccer quarterfinals
The Parkland boys soccer team checked off a lot of boxes this season. The team beat its biggest rival four times while winning district and league titles. The Trojans went 24-2 and were one of the final eight teams left in Class 4A Saturday night before falling to Conestoga 1-0 in a PIAA quarterfinal game.
While they might not have reached the ultimate goal of a state title, the Trojans left the field at Exeter High School Saturday knowing that it’s within reach for the program.
“I think it shows the boys in the program that we’re close,” said Parkland head coach Patrick Birns. “We lost to [Conestoga] in overtime last year and they won states. We lost to them this year 1-0 and I wish them the best of luck this year. We’re there. We’re really close. Sometimes you get the breaks and we didn’t get them tonight.”
The teams played even through most of the game, which was scoreless heading into the final 10 minutes of play. With 8:54 left on the clock the Pioneers’ leading scorer Chris Donavan knocked in the game’s only goal.
“He made a great turn and a great shot,” said Birns. “The game of soccer is funny like that. It was two evenly-matched teams back and forth. We had opportunities. They had opportunities. Their keeper made two big saves. Jake [Varrato] made three big saves for us, but they stuck one in.”
The District 1 champs went on to face District 1 fourth-place team Central Bucks West in Tuesday’s semifinals.
After beating Parkland, Conestoga coach David Zimmerman had nothing but praise for his quarterfinal round opponent.
“They’re without a doubt the best team we’ve played all season, very solid all around the field,” he said. “This is one we’re definitely nervous about. My feeling, I probably shouldn’t say this, but they were the second best team in the tournament.
“They looked like a team that was on a mission. They have some very good players and a good style of play. We talked to the team about how they remind us of us in terms of the way they play. They do everything similar with their style of play and their pace. They’re a formidable opponent for sure.”
After three straight years of reaching the state tournament, Parkland graduates 14 seniors from this team and half of them were on the roster as sophomores and took part in all three state-playoff runs.
They kept the program moving forward, improving every year and culminating their careers with one of the best seasons in program history.
“It’s a great group of kids and they really left their mark on this program,” said Birns. “Beating Emmaus four times, nobody in the Valley has ever done that. We did that. To have three championships, division, league and districts, is pretty cool.”