Youth takes over boys soccer team
There is a large youth movement happening in the Parkland boys soccer program. After seeing 10 seniors graduate after last season, and one underclassman leave for an academy program, the Trojans have a small senior class and a team with youth all throughout the pitch.
Head coach Patrick Birns, in his ninth season at the helm, knows the challenges he has in front of him with an inexperienced roster, but there are still some strengths in areas that he is excited about.
“We should be a strong attacking team with a number of players who can attack in one-versus-one situations,” said Birns. “We have three goalkeepers who could play this year and excited to see who steps up.
“That competition will be something worth watching.”
Parkland fell short of winning back-to-back District 11 Class 4A championships as Freedom brought home the crown last season. The Trojans fell to rival Emmaus in the semifinals.
The group of players that Birns has returning with varsity experience includes senior defender Bryce Shalbert, senior forward Jackson Vanderpool, senior midfielder Alex Wilsterman, junior goalie Victor Baran and sophomore defenders Zack Morales and Yuzuki Murata.
Some of the younger players with less varsity experience that will be relied upon to contribute include juniors Will Ironside and Joel Santiago and sophomores Jacob Seed and Kyle Rothwell.
“This year’s senior class is small in numbers so they will have to rely on the younger players to help them achieve their goals,” said Birns. “We are young as a whole, but the kids are competitive and want to win, so as long as they work hard, we’ll be fine.”
Even with a lack of experienced firepower, the Trojans still expect the same type of season that they have become accustomed to over the last few years.
“Our goals are still the same this season even if we don’t have that target on our backs” said Birns. “We want to win the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference Skyline Division, the league outright, and districts. We believe that if we play hard and play our game we can achieve these goals.”
Parkland opens its season at home against Central Catholic on Saturday, August 31. It will then take on Emmaus and Northampton, both on the road the following week.