DiFalco’s hat trick leads Franklin Regional past Trinity in 1st round of WPIAL 3A playoffs

Saturday, October 23, 2021 | 6:39 PM

Franklin Regional appeared in the past three WPIAL Class 3A boys soccer championships and has its sights set on making it four straight.

The third-seeded Panthers got off on the right foot for that quest, shutting out No. 14 Trinity, 8-0, at home in the first round Saturday.

“I thought we came out strong today,” senior Anthony DiFalco said. “We took our chances well today and played pretty sound defensively.”

DiFalco figured prominently in the Panthers’ attack.

Junior captain Colton Hudson put Franklin Regional up 1-0 when he found a loose ball after a goal kick and put a right-footed strike into the net in the 6th minute.

Then DiFalco took over.

He headed in a great feed from Joey Bayne in the 24th minute for a 2-0 lead. Bayne’s service came from the right wing and found DiFalco alone in front for the goal.

“It was a nice 1-2 play on the sideline,” DiFalco said. “Joey got the ball and served it in over the defenders head, and I got a header down into the ground for the goal.”

Eight minutes later, Hudson found DiFalco on the left wing, and after a great run, the senior’s left-footed shot snuck inside the far post for a 3-0 lead.

DiFalco made a great individual play on that goal. ‘

“Colton (Hudson) picked up the ball and laid it off to me,” he said. “I went down on a solo run, took on a player and slid it underneath the goalie.”

DiFalco completed the natural hat trick in the 40th minute when he buried a penalty kick inside the near post after a handball in the box for a 4-0 halftime lead for the Panthers.

“I just try to not let the goalie get in my head,” DiFalco said of the PK. “I kept my head down and shot it where I thought it would go in.”

DiFalco also netted a hat trick in Franklin Regional’s first-round win over Knoch last season.

Franklin Regional added four more goals in the second half.

Hudson scored his second goal of the match off a feed from Sam Dawson for a 5-0 lead. Dawson added a goal in the 54th minute.

Dylan Tomb found the net off a Hudson assist in the 58th minute before Gary Zhang rounded out the scoring in the 72nd minute.

Aryan Selokar and Noah Walker shared the shutout for Franklin Regional (14-3), which has won five of their last six matches. Trinity ends its season at 10-6-2.

DiFalco thinks team chemistry will be a key for Franklin Regional, which won back-to-back championships in 2018 and ‘19.

“We just need to stick together. We’re pretty close with one another,” he said.

The Panthers will face No. 6 Kiski Area at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday in the quarterfinals at Franklin Regional.

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