The Parkland High School girls soccer team did not want the East Penn Conference title game to be decided by penalty kicks, where anything can happen. Aristea Gougoustamos made sure to end it before that.
The junior found the back of the net on an assist by Sejal Wellington with just 1:10 left in overtime to give the Trojans a 1-0 victory over Emmaus in the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference championship game last Saturday at J Birney Crum Stadium.
But it did not come easy, even though they had their chances. The Trojans had 20 shots, compared to one for the Green Hornets (16-4-1). They also had a 12-1 advantage in corner kicks.
“I don’t think we did a good job of capitalizing on the opportunities we created,” said Haddad. “We did not play very good corners, which has been a big strong point for us. If I take away what I didn’t like, it was finishing on the chances we created and our corners. But what I liked was the resiliency, knowing that the girls made the commitment. We’re either winning or losing it in overtime. We’re not going to PKs.”
It is the eighth consecutive conference crown for Parkland (21-0 overall), which remained undefeated on the season. Eight titles in-a-row sounds good, but a lot of hard work and some luck goes into it each season.
“It is hard to do, especially with the growth of the sport and the parity that is coming across the league,” said Haddad. “But the girls have a strong determination every year to start in June at 6:30 in the morning. So, hats off to them.”
Parkland won despite missing EPC First-Teamer Madison Woodward, who has a sprained ankle.
“When we heard that Madi was injured, we planned for the fact that they were going to have a very lower line of defense,” Haddad said. “Not necessarily park the bus, but make sure they were behind the ball like they did. That’s what they did. You have one of the top defenses in the league normally. And now they’re behind the ball all the time, it made it very difficult.”
Kayla McNevin finished with one save in goal for Parkland.
The Trojans earned the number one seed in this week’s District 11 Class 4A Tournament. They received a bye into the semifinal round and will play either fifth-seeded Northampton or fourth-seeded Nazareth on Tuesday, Nov. 1.