Franklin Regional boys soccer will enter next season with new coach, plenty of talent

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Saturday, November 11, 2023 | 11:01 AM


Franklin Regional has a coaching vacancy with the sudden departure of two-year coach Lukas Petersen, who is moving to Maryland because his wife has a new job there.

The position might be one of the most attractive in the state, which isn’t hyperbole considering the Panthers only lose five seniors and return more than 80% of their starters, most of whom were juniors this season, from a 12-9 team that reached the WPIAL Class 3A semifinals as a No. 11 seed.

The key returnees would include Joey Bayne, Danny Christafano, Jovan Sankoorikal, Tyler Pipon, Noah Walker and others.

The Panthers finished 12-9 after a 3-1 loss to Montour in the WPIAL third-place game. That loss followed a 2-0 defeat against Hampton in the WPIAL semifinals.

Franklin Regional built a number of counters but could not convert against Hampton sophomore keeper Gavin Guinn in their bid to reach the WPIAL finals.

“It took us longer than we’d have liked to settle in,” Franklin Regional assistant coach Andy Saporito said. “Their long ball early was very effective. We were able to get the ball out wide as the game went on.”

Walker played well in his second playoff start in a row in net for the Panthers, filling in for standout senior Aryan Selokar (concussion). He tied Guinn with six saves.

Petersen, in his second season as coach, watched the loss to Hampton on a cell phone screen from inside his car in the parking lot at North Allegheny.

He was suspended one game for receiving two yellow cards in the previous playoff upset against Moon.

“I told them the day before our first playoff game,” Petersen said. “It’s been a pleasure and honor to coach them.”

The Vermont native who also coached at Pitt enjoyed his brief time with the program.

“When I played (in high school and beyond), I was always close but never won, he said. “Every coach wants to leave a legacy. I know it’s only been two years, but I hope what I did here is long-lasting.”

Bill Beckner Jr. is a TribLive reporter covering local sports in Westmoreland County. He can be reached at bbeckner@triblive.com.

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