Hampton boys soccer caps season in WPIAL playoffs
The Hampton boys soccer team lost its final four games of the regular season. That’s not the best way to head into postseason play.
But the Talbots nearly upset one of the top seeds in the second round.
Overall, it was a good season for Hampton (11-8, 9-5) and coach Matt McAwley, who has built the program back into a playoff contender the past three years.
“The young talent we have is very exciting,” said McAwley, who noted the JV team had an excellent year.
“We focus on varsity and JV to make sure they are ready to step up in the roles. That’s how programs are successful.”
The team found success early, stringing together four- and six-game winning streaks to finish tied with Kiski Area for second in Section 1-AAA.
The four losses at the end didn’t faze the Talbots, who gained valuable experience against top competition, including Mars and Deer Lakes, two of the top teams in the WPIAL.
Pitted against a solid Laurel Highlands team in the first round, young talent answered the call. Sophomore Corey Scherer scored a hat trick to lead Hampton to a 4-0 victory.
“For us, the end of the season was a difficult challenge,” McAwley said. “But the playoffs against Laurel Highlands, we end up coming up with a win against a very difficult team.”
Scherer’s six goals were second on the team to senior Harper Cook (seven), a Rutgers commit, and just ahead of junior midfielder Matt Govi (five).
The Talbots gave undefeated Franklin Regional problems with an equalizer in the second half.
“They have a lot of great players and attack in ways you don’t normally see a high school team attack in,” McAwley said of Franklin Regional. “We were prepared for that and confident we could play with anybody.”
Franklin Regional scored on a loose ball in the box for a 2-1 victory.
“The boys played an excellent game, and I think they surprised a lot of people,” McAwley said. “I was proud of how they finished the season off.
“We had a lot of players get significant time in positions that need to be filled next year. We had 12 seniors, and all 12 contributed greatly to our success.”
The team will look to reload again next year despite the loss of Cook. Govi will move into a primary midfielder role and another talented freshman class joins the ranks.
“Near the end, Matt was doing things and playing for 80 minutes straight for both playoff games,” McAwley said. “He’s just somebody that doesn’t quit. We lost Harper, which is a big loss, but we were working some different people into that position to get experience.”
That’s the way Hampton plans on operating, as it hopes one of these years ends with a deep postseason run.
“That’s the whole concept of trying to reload and be great year after year,” McAwley said. “We have some great talent coming from eighth grade. And the group going into their sophomore year has a lot of talent. It’s exciting what the future holds for that group.”