Boys fall to Parkland
The Zephyrs’ bid to topple Parkland in the opening round of the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference boys soccer playoffs gained some early steam, but the Trojans took control in the second half to earn the victory.
It didn’t take too long for forward Jacob Gier to stake the visiting team to a 1-0 lead, and that held up through most of the first half until the Trojans were awarded a penalty kick at the 3:53 mark as Bryce Shalbert’s low shot slid past Justin Mattison for the equalizer.
The Zephs had an opportunity prior to that as another strong Gier shot just went wide of the far post, and then Kresstoph Whittick’s free kick from about 30 yards away short-hopped goalkeeper Kyle Schantz who was able to safely corral it before it bounded away for a possible rebound.
During that first half, the Zephyrs generated four shots on goal, while the Trojans were able to muster nine against Mattison who played well the entire game.
Whitehall was trying to reverse its fortunes against Parkland who defeated the Zephs twice during the regular season, both times by three-goal margins.
This time they were heading into the final 40 minutes with an opportunity to erase those memories with a win. Head coach Chris Bastidas felt that they had some good looks in that first half.
“I thought we were looking good in the first half,” said head coach Chris Bastidas. “We were finding our forwards’ feet and not playing the ball over the top.”
He said that enabled them to play the ball back through, allowing the entire team to press the attack. Bastidas said they did that really well in the opening half, opening the door to those four chances.
Once the second half began, the Trojans quickly got on the scoreboard after Joel Santiago’s shot sailed above the outstretched arms of Mattison for the 2-1 lead.
Bastidas said that threw them off a little bit, and a few minutes later the Zephyrs were further hampered when midfielder Elie Khalil went down with an injury forcing him to shuffle some players around.
Still, they were able to generate some chances as Parkland fought to keep them from bottled up in their own end.
“That’s what we’re looking for, attacks that are dangerous,” said Bastidas.
One of those attacks came late in the half as Abdulrahman Ojulari-Sulyman raced down the far sideline, sprinting ahead of the defender to get off a shot that just skirted the outside post.
He said that they just weren’t able to capitalize, missing the last pass through or the shot on goal.
“We were there,” he said.
Bastidas said that the Trojans, who have now defeated the Zephs in all three meetings, are a very good team that runs at you in waves. They’re skilled on the field and on the bench. He said that have to work really hard to match their depth and intensity. That allows the Trojans to come at them with fresh troops throughout the second half.
“It’s advantageous for them, but we worked and we were there,” Bastidas said.
Defender Nate Walker played a marvelous game on the back line. He was constantly keeping Parkland’s attack at bay, playing strong and physical on the ball.
The Zephyrs goal was assisted by Khalil who flicked the ball to Gier who then hit a one-timer for the 1-0.
“He got all of that. there was no question about that,” said Bastidas.
As the Zephyrs prepare for the district playoffs, Bastidas believes that they rank among the top three teams in the district and expects to meet the Green Hornets or the Trojans at least one more time this season.
“We’re battle tested; we’re ready to go, and we’ve been right there in those games,” he said.
He said it’s a matter of putting a complete game together. That will take them where they want to be.