Hampton boys soccer claims state championship with shutout

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Saturday, November 20, 2021 | 9:27 PM


HERSHEY — Hampton won the PIAA Class 3A boys soccer title 1-0 over Archbishop Wood on Saturday night at Hersheypark Stadium, capping a successful weekend of WPIAL soccer that saw five state championships for local teams.

It appeared for a while the Talbots (23-1) might be the third game in a row that went to overtime, like the Class A boys champion Winchester-Thurston and Class 3A girls champion Mars, as the Vikings (14-3-1) denied every Hampton opportunity in the first 50 minutes.

Zach Panza finally broke the scoreless draw with 22 minutes, 40 seconds left in the contest. He was set up by a pass from Luke Staggers, who benefited from a nice set up from Holden Pritts.

“Zach’s (right) ankle injury, he’s been dealing with that all through the playoffs,” Hampton coach Matt McAwley said. “Anything we do with possessions, he been using his left foot. When I saw (Staggers’) pass reach his left foot, I felt good.”

Despite being turned away earlier in the game, Panza said he thought the goal was destined.

“We knew this goal was coming,” Panza said. “We had opportunities. Their goalie made some great saves.”

Archbishop Wood only had a few scoring opportunities, but they came after Panza’s goal.

The best chance the Vikings had to tie the score was with 14:30 to go, when Lou Daniele’s shot was aimed on the top of the net. Thomas Bradfield made the leaping save, with the ball popping up in the air and hitting the crossbar before bouncing out of bounds.

That led to a corner kick for Archbishop Wood, but Bradfield caught the initial kick.

Other than that sequence, the Vikings could not get sustained pressure on the net. The Talbots held them to three shots on goal and one corner.

“Knowing how well our back line plays, we were going to be able to defend our lead,” McAwley said.

Luke Fiscus nearly gave Hampton some insurance late in the game, making two runs at the net in the last five minutes. His first shot went wide of the net to the left, the other to the right.

Nevertheless, the Talbots were only 60 seconds away from the title, and Fiscus’s attempts kept the field tilted their way.

“I had this goal in my mind,” Panza said of clinching the title. “But when we won WPIALs, or even before the playoffs, I knew (we would win the state title).”

In the first half, there were only a few scoring chances, and they belonged to Hampton.

Archbishop Wood goalie Julian Naumenko made two diving stops of shots, both of which resulted in corners. The first corner did not result in a shot, and the second led to a deflection that sailed over the crossbar.

In the second half, the best chance by Hampton before Panza’s goal was a shot near the left post by Pritts, but it trickled wide of the net.

Hampton finished with five shots on goal and four corners. Bradfield finished with three saves.

Naumenko made four saves.

On Friday, Moon (Class 4A girls) and Quaker Valley (Class 2A boys) also won state championships for the WPIAL.

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