Peter Kwakye-Ackah is one of the quieter members of the Parkland boys soccer team, but sometimes, it’s the quiet ones you have to watch out for.
For the second year in a row, Kwakye-Ackah came up with a big postseason goal to help lead the Trojans to a victory. Liberty, the third seed in the tournament, was this year’s victim as the senior midfielder drilled home a perfect shot in overtime to beat the Hurricanes 3-2 in the District 11 Class 4A semifinals.
Things went pretty much to plan for Parkland’s girls soccer team Tuesday night as it jumped out to an early lead and then relied on defense to take a 3-0 win over Emmaus in the District 11 Class 4A semifinals at Northampton High School. The win puts the Lady Trojans into the district championship and guarantees them of a spot in the PIAA Tournament.
Parkland’s game plan consists of getting off to an early start offensively, and it took the Trojans about 10 minutes to get on the board against the Hornets.
Parkland girls soccer coach Al Haddad talks to his team constantly about getting quick starts in games, “playing downhill” once they have a lead, “finding feet” with their passes and keeping the ball out of the air. In the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference Championship game against Emmaus, Haddad’s team got away from those things early in the game, but corrected them at the half and came away with a 2-0 win and their third straight EPC title.
The Parkland girls soccer team may be one of the hardest working teams in the Lehigh Valley.
The Trojans don’t practice like most teams. They go at each other hard and don’t let up just because they’re teammates. That type of intensity has prepared the team for the postseason and has made life easier on them. That tenacity has helped them to back-to-back 8-0 wins over Liberty and Whitehall in the EPC Playoffs, earning them a spot in the conference championship.
There’s a famous story about when the 1962 Mets, the first team in the franchise’s history, reported for Spring Training. Manager Casey Stengel assembled his players, held up a baseball and started to explain how it’s used in the game. Stengel was much like Millie Birosik Nemeth, who gave her field hockey players a ball and a stick in 1963 and started explaining how the game worked. After all, it was the first season that Parkland had a field hockey team and Nemeth was its coach.
It might not seem like Emmaus gave Parkland much of a battle in the Lady Trojans 4-0 win over the Hornets earlier this week. When you look deeper though, coach Al Haddad believes that the game provided his team with a tough challenge that it responded well against.
“That was our biggest test of the season,” said Haddad. “They came out and played us. I have a high level of respect for coach Oswald for playing us even-up and letting the chips fall where they may. They’re a great team and they’re only going to get better. They’ll be a force to deal with in districts,” said Haddad.
Freedom’s football team has a pretty good defense. Even the Patriots’ defense pales in comparison to the one that Parkland has put together.
In a battle of the two defenses, Parkland threw another shutout, its second straight, – to beat the Patriots 17-0 Friday night in Bethlehem School District Stadium.
Parkland field hockey coach Lizzie Millen wasn’t very happy with her team’s play through the first 30 minutes of its game against undefeated Moravian Academy Monday night.
By the end of the game though, her players had made Millen very happy when they rallied from a three-goal deficit to beat the Lions 4-3 in overtime.
Parkland boys soccer coach Patrick Birns has kept in touch with an old high school friend, Owen Finberg, who now heads up the soccer program at South Kent School in Connecticut. South Kent is the defending High School National Champions and Finberg is the reigning national Coach of the Year.
The two old friends met once before as coaches when Finberg was the coach at West Nottingham Academy in Maryland. In that previous meeting, Birns got the best of his old buddy with a win, but this time around, it was Finberg evening the slate when South Kent beat Parkland 2-0.
Parkland tennis had a tough week last week, playing two very good teams in back-to-back matches. First was a showdown in Bethlehem against Freedom (6-1, 6-1), followed by a match against preseason favorite Easton (6-0, 6-0) at Parkland.
The Trojans wound up on the wrong side of a 4-3 score in both matches. Head coach Michael Hingston believes that his team didn’t play badly and the scores weren’t a great representation of his team’s play.