After key losses, Hampton girls soccer to rely on deep pool of talent

Saturday, August 26, 2023 | 11:01 AM

The Hampton girls soccer team lost two all-WPIAL players to graduation and then lost another one to something nobody saw coming.

Three-time all-WPIAL midfielder Madison Hurst will miss her senior season after suffering a torn ACL in November playing Cup soccer.

With a recovery timeline of eight to nine months, Hurst said she could have tried to return around midseason, but the Robert Morris recruit decided to play it safe and sit out her final year with the Talbots.

“I wanted to focus on getting stronger and healthier for RMU,” said Hurst, who is graduating early and enrolling in college in time for spring. “If I came back to Hampton, I would be halfway through the season … and I don’t want to take a chance of retearing it again.

“It was a very difficult decision. I love the team, and I love everybody on it. It was a struggle. I was really struggling to make that call to coach (Bill Paholich).”

So, the Talbots will move forward into the 2023 season looking to replace Hurst as well as graduated all-WPIAL players Audrey Bianco, who had a team-high 18 goals and eight assists, and defender Skye Bierker.

“I think it will definitely be hard (replacing them), but I think we can do it,” senior midfielder Julia Herrmann said. “We have a lot of good girls coming up, and we have a lot of good girls who are really trying hard to fill in those positions well.”

Paholich, in his 11th season, said the Talbots have “13 to 14 players” who contributed last season, and the depth will be a plus.

“I’ve got all kinds of players that can play,” Paholich said. “I’m thinking we could be a little bit of a deeper team. I always say I look for 16 (players). This year I’m looking for 18. I think I can find enough players to give us quality minutes without any kind of a dropoff.”

The top returning players from last year’s 14-4 team are a pair of junior midfielders — Olivia Hoffman, who was second on the team with 12 goals and seven assists, and Sara Kenst, who was named all-Section 1-3A after scoring 11 goals.

“(They) both look really, really, really strong,” Paholich said.

Senior goalie Isabella English also returns with juniors Kendall Hoolahan, Sydney Lewis, Maria Zebrine, Sophia Zebrine and goalie Olivia Graswick and sophomore midfielders Molly Interthal and Emma Langer and sophomore center backs Adele Cole and Harper Struble.

“We’re getting better at talking to each other as a team,” senior co-captain Tiffany Habib said. “It’s really good and it’s really fun.”

The Talbots, who were slated open the season Aug. 26 against Central Valley, are bidding to reach the WPIAL playoffs for the eighth consecutive season. Last season ended with a 2-1 upset loss to No. 11 seeded Montour in their WPIAL Class 3A playoff opener.

“It was a tough loss,” Herrmann said. “I just think it’s really important that we are trying our hardest every practice and every game, just to get better and to get farther into the playoffs.”

Mars, which last season had its 80-game unbeaten streak snapped, remains the team to beat in the section. The Talbots have lost 12 in a row to Mars dating to 2014.

“We want to compete for the playoffs,” Paholich said. “You know Moon is going to be strong. You know Mars is going to be strong. You know Latrobe is going to be strong. You saw Penn-Trafford come on at the end of the year. … There are so many good teams in Class 3A. Until you start playing against them, you really don’t know where you stand.”


More High School Soccer Girls

Freeport’s Camryn Woods values experience with U.S. ODP national team
Upper St. Clair’s Sierra Dupre called up to U.S. national team for international soccer tournament
New coach brings energy, ‘tough love’ to Norwin girls soccer program
Norwin girls soccer coach steps down
Former Pine-Richland girls soccer coach breaks new ground with Pa. hall of fame induction