Girls soccer wins EPC title
Playing against arguably one of the hottest teams in the Lehigh Valley, Parkland stayed calm throughout a scoreless regulation and then found a shot about a third of the way through overtime to pick up a 1-0 win over Nazareth in Saturday’s Eastern Pennsylvania Conference title game. The win gave the Lady Trojans their fifth straight EPC championship.
Throughout the game, Parkland (16-2) had the better of play, but Nazareth was no slouch. The two teams seemed to keep much of the play in the middle of the field with both teams making an occasional run on the other team’s goal.
Nazareth goaltender Caitlyn Lazzarini came up huge in turning away shots by Parkland. The Trojans best opportunity came with 34:23 left in regulation when Lazzarini tipped a shot by Ava Hanna that went off the front of the crossbar and caromed back into play. Zoe Schutter was in the perfect position to play the rebound, which Lazzarini blocked, but couldn’t control. Another follow shot went just wide right of the goal to end the flurry.
“She’s an outstanding goalie,” said Parkland head coach Al Haddad. “She showed just how good she is today. She makes you earn everything. There are no cheap goals against her.”
Parkland earned the game winning goal when three sophomores hooked up to finish off Nazareth (13-7-1). It started with Jocelyn Fowler coming down the right side and putting a cross into the box for Schutter. A quick reaction from Alexa Marsteller changed the play.
“Joc [Fowler] took a big touch down the line and went to cross it in and I saw Zoe running and saw the ball coming,” said Marstellar. “I saw there was nobody on me and yelled ‘let’ and she let it come through to me and I looked up and found the corner of the goal and there it was.”
The goal kicked off a celebration for Parkland as Nazareth players walked dejectedly off the field. The Blue Eagles had a run that saw them come in as the tournament’s six-seed and go on to beat three-seed Easton 2-1 and then knock off second-seeded Whitehall 2-1 to advance to play top-seeded Parkland.
EPC coaches who vote on the league’s top players may have given Parkland a little added motivation. When the list of first-team all-stars was announced, there wasn’t a Parkland player on the list. Haddad reminded his team of that as it went back out to the field for the overtime period of play and it did add a bit of motivation.
“We know we have a great team and it doesn’t really matter to us,” said Marsteller. “We’d rather have the team success and the coaches always remind us that if we play as a team, we’ll get the win and the recognition.”
“I don’t quite get that,” said Haddad about not having any players on the league’s first-team of all-stars. “I’m just proud of this team and how hard they work. In some ways, it’s even nicer that we are league champions and we did it without any first-team all-stars.”
Parkland did place six players on the list of second-team all-stars.
The Trojans now advance to play in the District 11 Tournament. They earned a first round bye as the top seed and will play Liberty in the district quarterfinals Thursday at home. Liberty (11-7) downed Pocono Mountain East 2-1 in a first-round game to advance to the matchup with Parkland. During the regular season, Parkland downed the Hurricanes 3-0.