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Boys soccer season ends in first round of state playoffs

The last week of the season for the Parkland High School boys soccer team was unkind. The Trojans were defeated by rival Emmaus 3-1 in the District 11 Class 4A championship game after beating Emmaus three times before this season. Then five days later Parkland fell 2-0 to District 1’s second-place team, Lower Merion, last Tuesday night in the first round of the state playoffs at Harriton High School.

The Bulldogs were a formidable foe to the Trojans (19-4-1 overall), which can be expected this time of year in the postseason.

“Speed,” said head coach Patrick Birns on what made Lower Merion so tough. “They had the fastest team we played this year. I felt like it was our best game we played since the playoffs started. But their speed gave us problems.”

Parkland still had a successful season overall, finishing one win shy of 20 on the year, and also playing for both the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference and District 11 championships, while earning a spot in the state tournament as well.

“Tuesday was the best we played in the playoffs this year,” Birns said. “Since our last regular season game, we have struggled to find the back of the net. Going 4-3 in our last seven games leaves a bad taste in our mouths about this season.

“But on the other hand, we went 17-1-1 in our first 19 games. We won the [EPC West] division that had two district champs in it (Emmaus and Central). We went 18 games without a loss and played in two championship games. That sounds like a great season. But at Parkland you are measured by championships. We went 1-for-3 in that category.”

Parkland will graduate a group of eight seniors that made their marks on the program. Birns, along with his entire staff will miss them.

“This group of seniors did a great job navigating the waters without having a true normal season last year,” said Birns. “They all impacted the program with their dedication to improving over the offseason and coming together during the season.”

Looking into next season, Birns will rely heavily on his junior class, which he called a “great group and talented bunch of guys.”

PRESS PHOTO BY DON HERB Kyle Rothwell (15) and Michael Li (6) are two of eight Trojan seniors who helped the team earn a league title and post 19 wins in 2021.