Franklin Regional boys soccer remains among elite with another superb season

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Saturday, November 20, 2021 | 11:01 AM


It’s the time of year when postseason games and accolades pile up for the Franklin Regional boys soccer program.

Another season stretched into mid-November for the program, which learned a new scheme and overcame some adversity to stay among the WPIAL powers.

The Panthers reached the WPIAL semifinals before falling to Hampton but made a run to the PIAA 3A quarterfinals where they faced the Talbots again.

While the season ended there with a 2-0 loss, the team put together another memorable stretch and finished 17-5 under first-year coach Thomas Louisy.

Senior forward Anthony DiFalco was once again the WPIAL 3A Player of the Year after scoring 30 goals and dishing out 26 assists heading into the state quarters.

Oddly, DiFalco was not the Player of the Year in Section 4. He earned all-section, All-WPIAL and all-state honors and was selected to the High School All-American Game next month.

He was weighing his options as far as playing Division I soccer. What a career DiFalco had: 74-10-2 record, two WPIAL titles, a WPIAL runner-up finish, two PIAA semifinal trips and 117 goals.

His teammates, juniors Colton Hudson and Jake Kimmich, also made the All-WPIAL list.

The team will build around Hudson and Kimmich next season, but freshman Joey Bayne also figures into the mix.

The wide-eyed striker made a significant impact — on a large stage.

Bayne scored both goals, including the winner in overtime, as the Panthers squeaked past Cathedral Prep, 2-1, in Erie to return to the PIAA quarterfinals.

“He was fantastic,” Louisy said. “He has helped to take pressure off of some of our other guys.

“He pays attention to details. He’s been getting opportunities to start since day one. He is a confident kid.”

The Panthers also played a freshman goalkeeper in the state opener: Noah Walker, who stopped at least a dozen shots.

Sophomore Aryan Selokar injured his thumb at practice and could not go in the first round after going through warm-ups, so Walker took over between the pipes.

“He works hard and trains hard to be ready for moments like that,” Louisy said of Walker.

Walker stopped 12 shots in relief of Selokar on the way to the overtime win.

“We have worked with (Walker) to be ready all season,” Louisy said. “He was under a lot of pressure and handled it well. We have a lot of confidence in him. He works hard and gets extra training on his own.”

Bill Beckner Jr. is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Bill by email at bbeckner@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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