Hornets Edged By Lower Merion In PIAA Playoff To End Season
In a matchup of two teams that held the #1 Boys Soccer ranking in PA this season for a combined 7 weeks (topdrawersoccer.com), the Hornets lost 1-0 to Lower Merion, the District 1 – 3 seed, on Tuesday November 5 at J Birney Crum Stadium.
The Aces carried the momentum through the first 25 minutes of the game, using solid team defense, speed on attack, and long throws from the sideline. Under pressure, Emmaus had difficulty maintaining possession on attack and trouble clearing the ball from the defensive end. Lower Merion earned 5 corners in the first half and probably had the same number of long throws into the box, while Emmaus was unable to create a dangerous shot. Junior keeper Chris Buck came out of the net to challenge deep balls effectively to prevent several shots. On the Aces’ best opportunity of the half, Buck charged an attacker who had broken away beyond the defense to force a weak shot that trickled toward the net. Sophomore defender Jaeden Amato, whose defensive play rescued the Hornets on multiple occasions, was able to streak back and control the ball a short yard in front of the goal. Despite the pressure, the Hornets maintained composure. The last 15 minutes of the half, Emmaus adapted to the Aces speed and controlled possession more effectively so that the teams entered halftime tied 0-0.
The first minutes of the second half started on a similar note. However, the Hornets were quicker to adapt this half. Emmaus, with superior fitness, began to wear down the Aces and dominated the last 20 minutes. The Hornets won free balls, controlled the midfield, and created multiple shot opportunities. Jake Groh and Jake Perry had headers from consecutive corner kicks that just missed. Groh worked for a few shots that were saved or crossed outside the goal. With under 10 minutes to play, Lower Merion was called for a hand ball just outside the box and Groh struck a laser free kick that hit the inside far post. Andrew Gaines hustled to find the rebound in front but his shot snuck over the crossbar. Despite these opportunities, Emmaus was unable to capitalize. Lower Merion pressured inside 5 minutes with a few free kicks but the Hornets held firm and it looked like the game was heading to overtime. Inside 2 minutes, Lower Merion won the ball at midfield, made a quick pass to the right and sent a through ball to the corner. As two defenders closed on the runner, he was able to thread a ball through the narrowest of gaps to an unmarked player at the 12 who drove a hard one-touch into goal to put the Aces up 1-0 with 1:30 to play. Playing the last 1:30 with only 10 players, after Groh drew a red card following the goal, the Hornets still managed to pressure with a long ball into the box. The Hornets thought that a Lower Merion defender committed a hand ball to give a chance for overtime, but the official’s line of sight was obscured and no penalty kick was awarded. The Aces were able to run out the clock to assure the 1-0 victory.
For the season, the Hornets finished 21-4-0, capturing Eastern Pennsylvania Conference and District XI Championships in the process. Congratulations to the 2019 Hornets for an outstanding season!
Final 2019 season statistics:
The document 19EmmausBoysStatisticsFinal.pdf was attached to this post.