Hampton boys soccer fights through tough section slate

October 6, 2018

The Hampton soccer team finds itself on the precipice of another playoff berth -- and facing the challenge of a more rigorous schedule.

Since a season-opening nonconference loss, the team has played 10 of 11 games in its section, going 8-2 and putting itself in the driver’s seat for another playoff berth.

“They’re really meeting up to the challenge of every game, and it’s been a grueling season,” coach Matt McAwley said. “Every game is a section game. Every game matters. There really isn’t any down time.”

There hasn’t needed to be for some of the top players. Senior Rutgers recruit and center midfielder Harper Cook and junior leading scorer Matt Govi (five goals) have been clicking.

“Those two have definitely been playing together a while now,” McAwley said. “I’d say the chemistry they both have, they balance each other well.”

Said Cook: “I think as a whole we’re looking pretty strong. We move the ball well, defend really well. We’re off to a really good start and have some good momentum going.”

A solid defense has insulated senior goalie Ryan Perkins, a first-year starter who is getting the job done when needed.

“Perkins has been really good,” McAwley said. “He really needed to step up and make some key saves. The back line in front of him has been incredibly solid, and he hasn’t seen a lot of action because they’re shutting things down before it gets to them. But whenever he’s put in those opportunities, he’s made them.”

Games such as the 9-1 blowout to Armstrong on Sept. 27 have allowed McAwley to rest some of his best players’ legs in the second half. Freshmen such as defenseman Zach Panza and outside midfielder Gabe Vislay have seen time in the rotation.

“There’s situations it’s 3-1 at halftime, and we’re looking for that one goal so we can put the younger guys in. It’s a great opportunity for my older players. They know what’s at stake. If we get a three-, four-goal lead, they’re rewarding those younger players.”

McAwley would like to see more one- and two-goal games down the stretch run to keep his best players fresh through a schedule that features 14 section games out of 18 total.

“As soon as we start putting in more goals, we’re going to pick it up, and I think we can make a deep run,” Cook said.

“The guys know that and take it in stride,” he said. “I’m really proud of the way they’ve performed so far. They go into each game with the mentality that they need to get a result, and it needs to be a positive one.”

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