FHS boys fall to EHS
The Freedom boys soccer team came into the opening round of the EPC playoffs needing to play well against second-seeded Emmaus if they wanted to advance to the semifinals. What happened Saturday at Emmaus’ Memorial Field was anything but the type of performance the team needed now that the postseason is here.
The Hornets (16-3-0) got two goals off penalty corners, using basically the same set play, taking a 2-0 lead over the Patriots with 21:26 left to play in the first half of the game. The lead seemed to give Emmaus a huge momentum boost and take the air out of the sails of Freedom (10-9-0).
“Yeah, they let down at that point,” admitted coach Matthew Reightler of his team. “It’s all about fight and we showed a lack of it today, there was a lack of that wanting to get back into the game. That’s very uncharacteristic of how we play and this team is going to have to find that fight in them again if they want to make a run in districts; I still believe that they can do that.”
Emmaus added a third goal in the first half when Andrew Gaines scored 7:09 before halftime to put the Hornets up 3-0. After the break, Emmaus came out firing and less than two-minutes into the second half, Jake Groh scored to make it 4-0.
Freedom had a couple opportunities in the second half, but Emmaus continued to control much of the play. In the final 12:00 of the game, Emmaus added two more goals to officially put the game out of reach and eliminate the Patriots from the EPC playoffs.
At one point this season, Emmaus was 13-0, but a rash of injuries hurt them and they dropped three-straight games. On Saturday, Jake Perry, Gaines and Groh all scored goals for Emmaus after missing a stretch of games because of injuries. It was Perry, who hooked up with Thomas Hanvey, another player who missed time with an injury, to score on the two penalty corners.
“We’ve had a rough couple of games. We’ve been saying all season long that we’re one of the better teams, but the results haven’t shown it,” said Reightler. “Their team wanted it more today; Emmaus wanted it more. If we want to keep going, they [the Freedom players] have to decide that they want it more.”
While they were eliminated from the conference playoffs, Freedom will return to play in the District 11 tournament, which begins next week. The way things stand, Freedom would play Tuesday in the Pigtail Round of districts, most likely having to play at Northampton (9-8-1), who failed to qualify for the EPC playoffs. Freedom and Northampton didn’t play during the regular season.
“I’ll say it again, it comes down to fight and being the team that wants it more,” emphasized Reightler. “If we don’t come in playing hard and showing that we want to keep playing, then it’s going to be an early exit and we can all go home. This team has the potential though to make a big run in districts; I believe that, but they have to believe it and show it on the field.”