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EHS wins D11 boys lacrosse title

Fourteen Emmaus boys lacrosse seniors were among the many high school athletes to miss their 2020 season.

While nothing can fill that void, the Hornets did their best to make up for lost time. After a 16-1 regular season and a runner-up finish in the East Penn Conference, Emmaus won this year’s District 11 Class 3A title with a 5-3 victory over Parkland Thursday at Northampton High School.

“After the two long-awaited years it was well worth the work,” said Emmaus senior Matthew Dapper. “Last year a lot of kids missed out on their time. We had a lot of good seniors who were going to play. We did it for them and I know a lot of them were here supporting us tonight.”

While both defenses shined in the game, the Hornets were just a little better in front of goalie Ben Franco.

Parkland’s Matt Barraco won the opening face off and it turned into a quick Jake Parker goal and 1-0 Trojan lead in less than a minute of play.

But Emmaus’s Connor Flok answered with 9:55 left in the first quarter to tie the game then added the go-ahead goal with 7:03 left in the period.

With just over a minute left in the first quarter, Zachary Whalen found teammate Nathan Seidel in front of the net for the Hornets’ third goal and a 3-1 lead after one quarter.

Will Barber made it 4-1 in the first minute of the second quarter.

When Parkland cut the lead with a Chase Kusko goal with 4:30 left in the third quarter, it was the Trojans’ first score since the first minute of the game.

Barber, a freshman, pushed the lead to 5-2 when he scored with 2:32 left in the third period.

The Trojans’ nearly scored a goal with one second left in the quarter, but Brett Cipolla’s backhand shot past Franco was waived off for a crease violation.

Parkland cut the lead to two goals again on a Matt Albertson goal with 6:43 left in the game. The Hornets didn’t score in the final quarter, but they didn’t need to.

“It’s Ben Franco and it’s the entire defense,” said Emmaus head coach Stu Speicher. “I wish I could name every single one of them. It’s a team effort. The offense became a part of the defense because we were able to take posessions away. We held the ball for the last couple minutes and we were able to kill the clock. That’s how the game is played as a team.

“All season we never said we’re an offenisve unit or defensive unit. We just always preached one unit playing together.”

They might have only met once this season, but the Parkland and Emmaus boys lacrosse teams are no less familiar with one another than past seasons when they’ve faced one another two or three times before districts.

That familiarity was the reason both coaches cited for Thursday’s low-scoring game.

“They obviously scout us very well,” said Speicher. “They shut us down. We knew it would be a battle. The last time we played them we were able to open things up but not tonight. It was just two amazing defenses battling out there.”

Barraco won 11 of 12 face offs for Parkland, but the Trojans sent many shots wide and had a few others stopped by the Hornet longstickman. Franco made 10 saves in the win.

“Matt Barraco had a heck of a game,” said Emmaus senior Zach Palinkas. “He did so well, but we held them to three goals. We just played such good team defense.

“We’ve been working for this all season, pushing every game. We had a great season and we just wanted to end it with this win and we got it done.”

Emmaus was the defending district champ, having beaten Parkland 7-6 in 2019, the last time a varsity season was held. The Hornets now move on to the state tournament to face St. Joe’s Prep Tuesday at Nazareth.

No matter what happens in the state playoffs, the Hornets have already created some great memories during a year where they had been few.

“Coming into this season for these 14 seniors there’s no good memories of their senior year,” said Speicher. “There’s COVID shut downs. There’s Zoom classes. There’s no crowds at football games. No homecoming. No hanging out with your freinds.

“We just said lets make this season a memory. I really hope that we were successful, that these guys can look back forever at something great that came out of their senior year even during the pandemic.”

PRESS PHOTO BY MIKE HAINES Emmaus won its second consecutive District 11 boys lacrosse title when it held off Parkland 5-3 last Thursday at Northampton High School.
PRESS PHOTO BY NANCY SCHOLZ Emmaus's Tyler Clokey carries the ball during a district semifinal playoff win over Freedom.