Zephs run ends with D-11 finals loss to EHS
As the sixth-seed in the District 11 playoffs, Whitehall High School knew they would need to pull off a series of big wins to win district gold. In the first two rounds, they eliminated third-seed Liberty and then bounced second-seed Parkland, both in one-goal games, with the game against Liberty going to overtime. The win over Parkland locked up a spot in states for the Zephyrs, but they still needed to beat top-seed Emmaus to win district gold. Again, they played a one-goal overtime game, but came out on the short end of a 1-0 game, settling for silver medals in districts.
In the finals, Emmaus (21-3-0) and Whitehall (13-8-1) played a scoreless first half with Emmaus holding an advantage in the number of chances. Late in the first half, Emmaus’ Jake Groh put a shot off the crossbar and other shots were stopped by goalkeeper Justin Mattison. The two teams went to halftime scoreless with Whitehall coach Chris Bastidas feeling pretty good about his team’s chances.
“At halftime, I thought it was going to be a one-goal game,” admitted Bastidas. “In the first half, we had chances, but they had more chances than us and I thought we could turn that around in the second half.”
Unfortunately, things didn’t turn around for Whitehall as Emmaus came out pressuring and used a set of nice passes to go up 1-0. Jaeden Acosta sent a ball inside to Jake Groh, who sent it back out where Andrew Gaines made a move and was able to get it back to Groh, who was able to find a spot to Mattison’s right and get it to the back of the net.
Play evened out for much of the second half after Groh’s goal, but the damage had already been done. Just past the midway point of the second half, Kresstoph Whittick put an absolute laser on goal, but it went just wide and caromed off the post, coming back into play where it was cleared by Emmaus.
“They had two big wins and I think they can play with anybody,” said Emmaus coach John Cari of the Zephyrs.
The Hornets have a high-powered offense and the Whitehall defense stood up to the challenge for the most part. Whitehall’s defense has been a calling card for their success in districts, allowing just two goals in their three district games.
“Our defense did a great job again, led by Nate Walker and Justin Mattison played really well in goal,” pointed out Bastidas. “We were getting good looks and we were hoping to get one of those on net and they came up really big and made a couple of good saves and their defense was great tonight. The ball didn’t bounce our way and I thought we played well, but Emmaus played well also.”
Whitehall will play against the Boyertown Bears at Owen J. Roberts High School in the first round of the PIAA playoffs. The appearance in the district final was the first for Whitehall, as is their trip to states.
“I told them, ‘it’s a great opportunity and it’s our first time ever going to states.’ It’s a great step for the program and we celebrated that,” said Bastidas. “But today, we wanted to celebrate a district title and unfortunately, that didn’t happen for us.”