Heading into the 2016 season, Parkland boys soccer head coach Patrick Birns did not know what to expect from his team. They were coming off of an Eastern Pennsylvania Conference title, but a large part of that squad graduated.
Eight seniors left vacancies to fill for a young Trojans roster. What made things even harder was being forced to play the entire year without returning starter and senior captain Justin Evans due to an injury.
The Parkland girls soccer team walked off the field last Saturday night at Tulpehocken High School with a 3-2 loss in the PIAA Class 4A state quarterfinals. It was the first and only defeat the Trojans (25-1) suffered in 2016, and it came with just one kick of the ball, a game-winner in overtime.
The program has a lot to look back on this season as a success. The Trojans defended both their Eastern Pennsylvania Conference championship (third straight) and District 11 crown (second consecutive).
A little over two weeks ago, the Parkland volleyball team experienced something that hadn’t happened to it in almost three years: a loss to a conference opponent. Liberty took down the Trojans in straight sets to win the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference championship and send a message across the league.
It didn’t take much for the Parkland football team to get motivated for its first game in the district tournament. Falling to rival Emmaus on the final play of what served as the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference South Division championship game the week prior, the Trojans worked all week at practice, preparing to not have that same feeling again.
After a goal-line stand prevented them from beating the Green Hornets in the season finale, head coach Parkland Tim Moncman went right back to the ground game in the first round of the playoffs.
It took a game to settle in. A game one that went well past the normal 25-point finish was won by Parkland, but only by two points.
The Trojans just needed that confidence to be able to settle in to the District 11 Class 4A semifinal. From there the top seeded Trojans took the next two games and won in straight sets over fourth seeded Emmaus 29-27, 25-17 and 25-18 last Tuesday night at Allen High School’s Sewards Gymnasium.
It’s no secret around the Parkland community, and even as far as the Lehigh Valley, that the Trojan football program has been a dominant force over the last few years. They have won four straight District 11 Class 4A titles, and also come league championships along the way.
Parkland head football coach Tim Moncman never wavered in his decision to go for it on fourth down and one from the one-yard line. He had done it before with the game on the line back when he was the head man at Liberty in an important game, and he had the personnel to do it again.
The last home game of the regular season is traditionally senior night in which the senior members of the home team are honored with their parents. It has become somewhat of a tradition that the Parkland football team comes away with a victory in that final home game.
“It’s a great way to go out and leave our legacy as a class,” said senior wide receiver Carrick Panella. “We don’t want to be the class that loses on senior night. We work hard all week because we know it’s our last home game. It’s a good feeling to secure that last win on this field.”
It was a game that the Parkland football players, coaches, and fans had circled on their calendars for a little while. Despite both being inaugural members of the three-year old Eastern Pennsylvania Conference, the Trojans hadn’t played Bethlehem Catholic for a few years. With the way that the conference was aligned, it didn’t allow these two successful programs to meet on the gridiron until the league realigned before the start of the season.
Senior basketball player Sam Iorio had plenty of options to play basketball in college. Twelve different schools offered him scholarships, but only one got his commitment. And that was the school that stuck with him through the beginning, and who he had the best relationship with.
Two weeks ago, Iorio committed to play at American University for the next four years.