Story courtesy fo the Bethlehem Press newspaper
By Katie McDonald
The Freedom Patriots know how to exact revenge in a big way, and how to win an East Penn Conference Championship in an even bigger way, after punishing the Parkland Trojans, 5-0, in the EPC boys soccer final on Saturday afternoon at Emmaus High School.
“We made a decision before we came in here today that we were gonna go at them, we weren’t gonna stop until the final whistle blew, and five goals shows that it worked,” said Freedom head coach Matt Reightler.
Parkland’s 2-1 OT win against Freedom earlier in the season is one the Patriots never forgot.
“We thought we should’ve won that loss, so this one felt really good, and it was really sweet,” said Patriot defender Austin Hoffert, who scored the fifth goal of the match on a header. “It was big because they had five people around me, and I went up and won the ball. It probably hurt them pretty big.”
Freedom striker PJ Tichy, who’s had a few hat tricks in his day, was primed for another on Saturday, along with two assists.
“It’s good to help the team,” Tichy said. “I wouldn’t say it’s all me; it’s all 11 and everyone who comes off the bench.”
Tichy chipped in the Pates’ first goal of the match from 25 yards out in the 28th minute to which Freedom’s bench erupted, chanting, “Chippy!”
“I saw the keeper was off his line, and I just went for it,” Tichy said.
Tichy’s next goal, to the bottom left corner, came in the 62nd minute.
“I wouldn’t say it was easy,” he said. “We worked hard and couldn’t let down in the second half.”
The hat trick was completed on a penalty kick 12 minutes later.
Said Hoffert, “Once we started to grow into the game, second half came, Coach gave us a good speech, and then we came out firing. [Parkland] tried to play a lot of long balls over our center backs, and from behind, they would run in.”
Hoffert attempted a header in the first half that was saved by Trojan keeper Matthew Link. Patriot midfielder Sebastian Garces’ shots on goal in the 26th minute were also saved by Link, but resulted in a yellow card for Garces and a substitution for Link after they collided.
The Trojans had offensive opportunities too, especially on free kicks in the first half, but all were saved by Freedom keeper Tristan Willey, who had a total of seven saves.
Patriot senior Michael Krents started Freedom’s attack in the opening minutes of the second half with a goal to the bottom left corner.
“I played it to PJ, he laid me off, and I just finished it,” Krents said. “We got that layer of comfort that gives us that confidence to keep going, so it was a big goal. Last time we won this was freshman year, and I was sitting on the sidelines, watching. It’s amazing.”
Freedom’s players and coaches were awarded gold medals along with the EPC championship trophy and the EPC East Division trophy.
“We have everything clicking at the right time,” said Coach Reightler. “They want to see everybody succeed and fight for the people standing next to them. I could put anybody out on this field right now, and they’re not gonna quit. We’re not done.”