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Trojans top Red Rovers, earn rematch with Emmaus

Easton’s offense was relentless.

But Parkland’s defense was ready.

The Trojans held a one-goal lead for nearly 48 minutes of Tuesday’s District 11 Class 3A field hockey semifinal.

That lead evaporated when Easton scored with just over five minutes left in the game.

Without hesitation, the Trojans’ offense went to work, earning a corner and converting it into a goal with just over two minutes left in the game. Parkland held on for a 2-1 win to advance to Thursday’s district title game against Emmaus.

“It felt like we were at a deficit and came from behind,” said Parkland head coach Julie Nelson. “So I appreciate that they didn’t get complacent and just think we have to go into overtime. They decided we were going to win in regulation. You have an opportunity to give up at that point and they definitely did not.”

The Trojans opened the scoring when Maya Zaun found the back of the cage with 8:53 left in the first quarter.

From there, Parkland’s defense did everything it could to keep the team in front. The Red Rovers had 12 corners in the game and only one turned into a goal.

Easton got off only seven shots in the game as most of the corners were turned away by the Trojan corner unit of Jordan Brunnabend, Aurora Gery, Cecelia Kleckner, Kendall Pattishall and Rosella Birns.

“It really was a team effort,” said Brunnabend, who stopped four Easton shots on corner plays. “We as a defense have a really good connection and were able to work together, especially with [goalie] Lexi [Pritchard] and her voice in the back, we were able to communicate and know where the ball is and get it out of the circle.”

Pritchard made four saves in the win.

“Lexi our goalie did a great job today,” said Nelson. “The goal that they scored was a great goal. There wasn’t a whole lot they could do. Our defense was doing a great job communicating. They didn’t have a lot of passing options because Easton is so good at their press, but they made it work and did a good job getting it out of our backfield today.”

Easton tied the score on its 11th corner of the game when Zoe Angelinas finally solved the Trojan defense with 5:27 left in the game.

The Trojans wasted no time responding as they were awarded a corner less than three minutes later.

Gery, a key cog in Parkland corners at both ends of the field, inserted the ball to Elaina Fragassi on the game-winning play. Gery then headed to the post and redirected a shot Fragassi blasted at the cage. It found the corner of the goal for a 2-1 lead with 2:07 left in the game.

“We have practiced corners a lot,” said Gery. “We tried to focus on tipping and being at the post more this week going into this big game.”

The win avenges a pair of losses to Easton over the past few weeks. The Trojans fell to Easton in their regular season finale on Oct. 12, 3-2. That came just two days after a 1-0 loss to Emmaus. Easton also knocked Parkland out of the league playoffs last week by a 3-2 score.

“We’re really happy with our performance,” said Gery. “We kept saying that you can’t beat a team three times. We wanted to come out and win and keep going. As a senior it’s really important to keep going with my last season and try and make the best of it.”

Nelson said her team matches up well with Easton, but didn’t play its best in the two previous meetings.

“I didn’t feel we played to the best of our potential those two games,” she said. “We played a little more complacent. I think today we came out and our main goal was be offensive and win each quarter or tie each quarter. We break the game down into quarters.”

Parkland clinched a state playoff berth with the win, along with a place in Thursday’s championship game against 35-time defending district champ Emmaus.

“It’s nerve-wracking and exciting at the same time,” said Nelson. “You always want to be the team that finally beats them. I do think this team is capable and we have the talent to do it.

“We were so close the first time. It’s just getting a goal. We gotta score on the cage with them. We gotta get a goal. You can’t win without a goal.”

Emmaus (21-1) has one loss this season, to Oak Knoll High School of New Jersey. Four teams have lost by just one goal to the Hornets this season, but only two teams (Oak Knoll and Parkland) have held the Hornets to one goal. Parkland did it on Oct. 7 in a 1-0 loss to Emmaus.

“Our first game against them was close,” said Gery. “We’re excited to go out and try to level up that rivalry.”

PRESS PHOTO BY DON HERB Parkland's Aurora Gery scored the game-winning goal in Tuesday's District 11 semifinal victory over Easton.
PRESS PHOTO BY DON HERB Jordan Brunnabend and the Parkland defense withstood 12 corners from Easton in Tuesday's win.
PRESS PHOTO BY DON HERB Parkland's Brynn Harrison brings the ball up the field during the Trojans' district quarterfinal win over Stroudsburg.