Article By: CHUCK HIXSON Special to the Press
After every Parkland girls soccer win, head coach Al Haddad hands out mini Snickers bars to his players. He continues that at practice from time-to-time, so his players decided it would be appropriate to show up for practice on Halloween and do a little trick or treating. They left their warm up gear in their backpacks and showed up in Halloween costumes. It turns out that the day after Halloween, they got their real treat - a fourth straight district championship thanks to a 5-1 bombarding of Easton.
“Yesterday’s practice was an interesting one,” said Haddad, who overall has led his teams to five District 11 gold medals in 13 seasons. “The entire team was dressed up for Halloween. I said ‘as long as you can still run, I don’t care how you’re dressed,’”
Parkland came out knocking on the door early and often.
It started just over two minutes into the game when Lindsay Reightler finessed a shot just over the head of goalie Christina Finelli for the first goal of the game. The haunting wasn’t completed as just 80 seconds later Ava Hanna followed with another goal to make it 2-0 in favor of Parkland.
“Going through my head, I saw Jocelyn [Fowler] give me an incredible ball and I knew it was right in front of the goal, so I knew I had to finish it and get us the lead early on,” said Reightler of her goal. “It definitely gave us high energy and intensity and knowing that we had the lead gave us confidence. Still, we had to think the game was zero-zero and play that way.”
It wasn’t much longer until Ava Schaller made it 3-0 in favor of Parkland and it seemed like the rout was on for the Lady Trojans. Instead, Leslie Echevarria breathed life into the Red Rovers when she was able to get a shot past Zia Reed to cut into Parkland’s lead. As if to make another statement, Reightler came back with her second goal of the night, this time on a penalty kick and the game went to halftime with Parkland up 4-1.
“We accomplished the three things that we wanted to do,” said Haddad. “One thing was to get a quick start and we didn’t expect it to be that fast and to get that many, but we’ve done that before. Getting those quick goals gave us an unbelievable amount of confidence and put Easton on their heels.”
Ironically, the time before that Haddad was referring to came in the first round of states when Parkland played Cumberland Valley at J. Birney Crum Stadium. Parkland held a 3-0 lead only to see the Eagles come from behind for a 4-3 win. That wasn’t going to happen this time.
“We felt that we had to keep putting the pedal to the medal. We didn’t get what we wanted to get in the second half, but we won the half 1-0, so that was enough,” said Haddad.
Hanna would get her second goal of the night with 22:53 left in the game. A shot by Fowler rebounded off of Lauren Morrow, who had replaced Finelli in goal. Hanna was in the perfect spot to redeposit the rebound and stretch the lead to 5-1.
The win gave Parkland a first round game in states back at J. Birney Crum Stadium and the Lady Trojans still had their foot on the pedal. Schaller and Zoe Schutter scored goals to lead Parkland to a 2-0 shutout of Downingtown East. The win moves Parkland into the quarterfinal round against Pennridge, who beat District 12 champion Central 8-0 in the first round. The quarterfinal matchups are on Saturday, but the place and time were not announced as of Press deadline Wednesday morning.