In a game dominated by Parkland through most of the play, the Lady Trojans pulled off a 1-0 shutout of Emmaus in the District 11 soccer semifinals. The win guarantees Parkland a spot in the PIAA tournament and also a shot at a third straight district title when they face Easton Thursday night. The Lady Rovers (16-4) reached the finals by virtue of a 1-0 double-overtime win over Whitehall (17-4) in the other semifinal matchup. Parkland and Easton didn’t meet in either the regular season nor the postseason.
The Trojans came out firing thanks to a goal by junior Jackson Vanderpool less than two minutes into their District 11 semifinal game, but Emmaus responded well and finished Parkland’s season with a 3-2 win in a game played at Whitehall High School’s sports complex. Emmaus will now face Freedom in the district championship game.
Playing against arguably one of the hottest teams in the Lehigh Valley, Parkland stayed calm throughout a scoreless regulation and then found a shot about a third of the way through overtime to pick up a 1-0 win over Nazareth in Saturday’s Eastern Pennsylvania Conference title game. The win gave the Lady Trojans their fifth straight EPC championship.
Throughout the game, Parkland (16-2) had the better of play, but Nazareth was no slouch. The two teams seemed to keep much of the play in the middle of the field with both teams making an occasional run on the other team’s goal.
Riley Williamson gave everything he had. The Parkland boys cross country runner had just run a brilliant race Oct. 16 at the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference Cross Country Championships at Bethlehem Municipal Golf Course and was paying the price. Barely able to stand, arms draped around two others, eyes squeezed shut and wincing in pain, Williamson looked like the walking wounded.
The Parkland boys soccer team fired shot after shot on the East Stroudsburg South net, but was having trouble getting one by the goal keeper.
After 21 shots and nearly 70 minutes of game action, the seventh-seeded Trojans finally broke through for a goal. They did so once more in downing the Cavaliers 2-0 last Tuesday night in the first round of the District 11 Class 4A playoffs at Parkland High School.
Senior Teagan Mangahas and junior Jackson Vanderpool both found the back of the net about four minutes apart from each other in the game’s final 11 minutes.
Parkland did a solid job in the fourth set of Saturday’s Eastern Pennsylvania Conference championships, limiting Nazareth hitter Maria Harding and tying the match at 2-2. It suddenly seemed as if all of the momentum swung to the Trojans’ bench.
And it had, until Harding and the Blue Eagles stepped on the court in the match-deciding fifth set.
The Parkland and Easton football programs have a lot of rich tradition of winning. At least one of the two teams has played in the district final every year since 1996.
But when squaring off against each other on the gridiron over the last half decade, the results have been rather one-sided in favor of the Trojans.
Parkland had won the last seven meetings dating back to the 2014 season, including a couple of games in the district tournament. It had also outscored Easton 235-37 in that span.
But that all changed last Friday night.
“This is a sweeter victory than anything else.”
That’s how Parkland coach Al Haddad summed up his team’s fifth straight Eastern Pennsylvania Conference championship Saturday after beating Nazareth 1-0 in overtime.
While Haddad wasn’t going to compare his current team to previous teams, he was quick to talk about how satisfying this year’s win is and the fact that it feels a little more special than the others because of the adversity that the team faced during the regular season.
The thing about the Parkland girls cross country team is that they are good. They’re so good that when they finish second out of 14 teams, the mindset is that they can do better.
“We still have a lot of work to do,” Trojan head coach Loretta Dodson said after her team’s second-place finish Oct. 16 at the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference Cross Country Championships, held at Bethlehem Municipal Golf Course. “I think just maybe working on individual goals and what they need to do to be a better team.”
Parkland girls soccer head coach Al Haddad is fortunate to have a core group of eight senior leaders, five of which started Tuesday’s East Penn Conference girls soccer quarterfinal game against Pocono Mountain East.
But it was two sophomores in particular, one of which was named an all-star before the game, who helped the Trojans advance to Thursday’s semifinal round.