Parkland Press

Thursday, October 17, 2019
PRESS PHOTO BY DON HERBParkland’s Maeve Leonzi boots a ball during Monday’s game against Emmaus. Copyright - Don Herb 2017_ PRESS PHOTO BY DON HERBParkland’s Maeve Leonzi boots a ball during Monday’s game against Emmaus. Copyright - Don Herb 2017_

Girls soccer battles Emmaus to 0-0 draw

Thursday, October 3, 2019 by CHUCK HIXSON Special to the Press in Sports

The Parkland girls soccer team hosted a tough Governor Mifflin team this past Saturday and was able to pick up a 3-0 win to stretch its season win streak to 14 games. The problem was that the nonconference game left Parkland without its first- and second-string goalkeepers who both suffered injuries in the win. Starter Zia Reed went down early in the game when she took a knee to the back and backup Teresa Gonzalez took over and made it to the final minutes before she too went down with an injury. Gonzalez finished out the game, but was unable to go against Emmaus on Monday night.

In other years, coach Al Haddad would have been in trouble after going through two goalies. For some reason though, he decided to go with three goalies on the roster for the first time in his nine years with the team. So, with the starter and the backup both out in a key game against rival Emmaus, all eyes turned to junior Katey Kunz.

“Last year I was on the JV team and this year it was a step up because I knew we had two varsity goalies and I didn’t know what was going to happen. I had to step it up this game,” said Kunz after she turned in an impressive performance and holding Emmaus scoreless in double overtime of what turned out to be a scoreless tie. “I was really nervous, but I had a lot of help from the girls in front of me.”

In the early part of the game, Emmaus (10-3-1 overall, 9-3-1 EPC) challenged Kunz with three shots on goal in the first 10 minutes. On two of those shots, Kunz came up with big saves to stop the shots and preserve the scoreless tie. Emmaus handled much of the play and limited the Trojans to just two shots on goal in the first half.

Parkland (14-0-1, 13-0-1) had Ava Schaller free on a breakaway with 19:47 left in the half, but Emmaus goalkeeper Alexa Ryan made a diving stop on the ball to keep Parkland off the scoreboard.

Less than a minute later, Emmaus pressured and Parkland came up with a big defensive stop. Kunz stopped the rebound, which was fired back on goal by Emmaus.

“We had no idea what to expect with Katey in goal,” said Haddad. “She does a good job in practice and has done well in games, but this is a different game. It’s Emmaus and you’re starting.

“She was nervous and I thought that she just put on the goalkeeping exhibition of the season for us and it’s a shame that we wasted that effort in a scoreless tie.”

Midway through the second half, Schaller again had an opportunity to put her team on the board, but Ryan kept pace with what Kunz was doing for Parkland and made a stop on the play. The ball rebounded back out to Mariana Aubele-Gonzalez, who saw an opening at the top part of the net and fired, but the ball bounced off the crossbar and went out of bounds.

From there, Emmaus went back on the attack and was awarded a direct kick with 19:40 left in regulation. Grace Eisenhard took the shot and put it over the crossbar, landing harmlessly out of bounds. Later, Emmaus was awarded back-to-back corners, but couldn’t cash in on either of the opportunities.

With 10:30 left to play, Parkland was awarded a direct kick, but again, Ryan made a stop on the ball.

Next up was Emmaus when it fired a laser toward Kunz, who lacks height, but was able to get good lift and tipped the ball over the top of the goal.

Momentum swung back and forth through both overtime periods, ending with the Lady Hornets having a flurry of opportunities late in the second overtime. They were awarded a direct kick with 21 seconds left to play, but Kunz again made an athletic play to turn aside the shot.

“A tie against Emmaus is not a loss and it’s a victory in the sense that at this point in the season it lets our girls know the fragility of the season and that just like that we can lose,” Haddad said. “We would be in PKs right now in playoffs and we’ve seen that go both ways. It’s a little wake-up call, but it’s great.”

Kunz was quick to acknowledge the players on the defensive line for Parkland for their work in front of her, saving her from any more shots than necessary. The shutout was the fourth in a row for Parkland and its seventh of the season.

“The defense is really starting to come,” said Haddad. “The back-line communication starts with Meg Leonzi, she’s a junior. She reads the game beautifully and she’s my communicator back there and then [Erica] Lincoln is going to come through you, so that the two center backs are doing an outstanding job. Then, we have two strong outside backs too, so the back line did an amazing job for Katey.”

Parkland may get Gonzalez back this week, but it’s likely that Reed is going to be out for the rest of the regular season, which ends on Monday.

“We may get Teresa back this week,” said Haddad. “But if we don’t, we have every confidence in the world with Katey and she at least has this on her resume now.”