Article By: TODD KRESS firstname.lastname@example.org
Parkland girls soccer head coach Al Haddad is fortunate to have a core group of eight senior leaders, five of which started Tuesday’s East Penn Conference girls soccer quarterfinal game against Pocono Mountain East.
But it was two sophomores in particular, one of which was named an all-star before the game, who helped the Trojans advance to Thursday’s semifinal round.
Already holding a 1-0 goal at halftime following Jocelyn Fowler’s goal, Zoe Schutter added two more in the second half as the top-seeded Trojans topped No. 8 seed Pocono Mountain East, 2-0, at Parkland High School. The win set up Thursday’s semifinal game against No. 4 Stroudsburg.
“We are a young team,” Haddad said. “They’ve come in and have immediately taken into the tradition of how we expect to play. They’ve worked exceptionally hard, and they are learning from a great group of seniors. The seniors are showing them this is how we train.”
Pocono Mountain East made a concerted effort to keep Parkland out of the box and away from the Cardinals’ goal early in the game. It worked for much of the first half. The Trojans, which had 10 shots in the first half, were close on a number of those opportunities. But it was arguably their toughest shot on goal of the first 40 minutes that found the back of the net.
Fowler took a pass from fellow sophomore Alex Marsteller, took one look at the goal, and fired a shot into the left side of the net. The shot came from at least 30 yards out.
“Every game that we go into, every team does something different,” Fowler said. “And this team really just compacted their defense.
“When Alex passed me that ball, I just looked up and saw the net. I usually think, ‘OK, who am I going to pass it to?’ That’s what I usually do. I pass it into the lane. If no one is there, I’m going to shoot it.”
Then it was Schutter’s turn, the Trojans’ second-leading scorer who was named an EPC all-star before the game. Marsteller got her foot on an initial Trojan shot that hit the post and bounced away from goal, but Schutter was there for the left-footed rebound shot that put Parkland in front 2-0 in the 48th minute.
“It deflected after Alex Marsteller hit the post,” Schutter said. “I just knew someone had to get to it. Me and Ava [Schaller] were close, so I just took the shot.
“We know as younger players that we need to make an impact, too. We’ve been working really well together and gelling.”
Schutter ripped her second goal of the game into the net, her 13th of the season, with 19:42 remaining in regulation. And then 10 minutes later, Emily Leiby put the icing on the cake by punching in Parkland’s third goal of the second half.
“All season we’ve really grown,” Schutter said. “We had two earlier losses, and we are just trying to prove that it’s not how you started, but how you finish. I think today we played like we didn’t want it to be our last game of the season.”