Boys soccer falls to Emmaus 1-0
During the abbreviated regular season, Emmaus and Whitehall played two games with both finishing in 1-0 scores favoring Emmaus in both games. Their third meeting of the season came in the district quarterfinals on Saturday and the finish was the same as in the first two games as the Hornets advanced with a 1-0 win over the Zephyrs.
Both teams were known throughout the season for strong defenses and offenses that could score multiple goals in some games only to struggle in the next game. Both teams had some opportunities early on, but Emmaus controlled the pace of the game and kept pressure on the Whitehall defense and goalkeeper Elijah Siler.
Just past the midway point of the first half, Emmaus looked to take a lead when Alexzander Toto put a shot toward the top of the goal but Siler was able to get a hand on the ball and deflect it over the crossbar. Ten minutes later, Hudson Peck played a ball toward the front corner of the net and Patrick Walsh went up over a Whitehall defender and headed the ball past Siler for the 1-0 lead.
With time running down in the first half, Emmaus looked for a second goal on a shot from Ryan Kiernan that was initially caught by Siler then dropped. The Zephyrs defense swarmed on the ball and quickly cleared it to avoid giving Emmaus another opportunity.
Emmaus came out looking for a quick goal in the second half. Both Peck and Walsh put shots on goal, but Siler denied both shots. On Peck’s shot, Siler covered up the shot, but on Walsh’s shot, Siler was only able to deflect the shot, but again, the Whitehall defense cleared the ball.
“He was so big for us,” said coach Chris Bastidas of his junior goalie. “Playing a team like this, you know they’re going to play the ball into the box and Eli came out well and knocked the balls out on crosses and he’s got such good reactions. A lot of times he had a couple guys in the box and he made plays that kept us in the game.”
The Zephyrs turned the momentum late in the second half and put more consistent pressure on Emmaus goalkeeper Ty Bleiler. With 9:14 left to play, Jacob Gier put a shot to Bleiler’s left, but the junior goalie made an athletic dive to shut down the scoring opportunity for Whitehall. The Zephyrs didn’t give an inch down the stretch and with time running out, got a shot off from the left side of the goal, but the ball went over the crossbar and time ran out before they could regroup and get off another shot.
“The team really battled even getting that last second shot off and almost found a way to get one in,” said Bastidas. “I’m proud of the guys this season because of how they battled.”
Emmaus moves to within a game of the finals as they defend their District 11 title from last season. Freedom will come to Memorial Field Thursday for the semifinal game against the Hornets. Bastidas wasn’t quite sure how his players would respond to all of the changes to the season’s practice and game schedules that were necessary because of the coronavirus.
“It was a really strange year and we had a lot of weird stuff to deal with,” noted Bastidas. “Looking back, I’m mostly sad for the seniors because they didn’t get to play a full season and what we did have certainly wasn’t normal.”