Hampton boys soccer team braces for title defense

Saturday, October 15, 2022 | 11:01 AM

The defending WPIAL and PIAA champion Hampton boys soccer team is ready to try to make another postseason run.

Most of the names are different, but the goal remains the same.

“These boys have worked very hard to put themselves in a position to be successful,” coach Matt McAwley said after the Talbots’ 9-0 Senior Night victory over Armstrong on Oct. 11. “These guys get ready for every single game, and they are trying to prove a point, and it has been consistent throughout the entire season.”

Despite losing 10 of their 11 starters from last year’s memorable 23-1 team, the Talbots have clinched a playoff spot for the seventh straight year. They were 8-3 in Section 1-3A (11-4 overall) as of Oct. 12 and were in position to clinch at least a tie for second place behind frontrunning Kiski Area with a victory at North Catholic on Oct. 13, a finish that McAwley said would be “a great achievement” for his players.

The Talbots were scheduled to close out the regular season with nonsection matches against Pine-Richland on Oct. 17 and Shaler on Oct. 19. The WPIAL playoffs are slated to begin as early as Oct. 22.

Only three players on Hampton’s roster — junior forward Coleman Docherty and junior midfielders Luke Fiscus and Oliver Spinola — saw consistent playing time during last year’s remarkable playoff run, in which the Talbots outscored their opponents 22-1 while going 8-0 on the way to the WPIAL and state titles.

But the balance of the roster was hardened during those extra postseason practices against the senior-heavy squad.

“I think that definitely will help us,” senior forward Sam Campbell said. “Last year I didn’t get much playing time, but I was in the practices and it opened my eyes to what I need to be like. The seniors last year were such a (high-caliber) opponent and for us to practice against them was a great opportunity. It built us.”

Docherty, who scored only two varsity goals last season while hampered with a knee injury, is leading the Talbots’ attack with a team-best 18 goals. Fiscus is second with 12 goals and leads the Talbots in assists. They have combined to score 30 of team’s 46 goals this season.

“They work very, very well together as a pair,” McAwley said.

Docherty scored the game-winner in double overtime to beat Gateway, 2-1, in the season opener. He scored the lone goal in a 1-0 overtime victory against Slippery Rock, had two hat tricks in victories over Armstrong and scored all four goals in 4-0 win over Knoch.

“This is what he’s capable of,” McAwley said. “His knee is back to normal. He’s dangerous with his right. He’s dangerous with his left.”

First-year goalie Marco Sciulli, a senior, anchors a defense that has shown steady improvement while posting seven shutouts.

“I feel like we are playing pretty good overall, but there are some little things we need to touch up,” Docherty said. “But I think if we solve those things, we can go pretty far once again this year.

“We didn’t play together a lot before this season, so it’s really just starting to come together.”

The Talbots rebounded from a narrow 3-2 loss to Kiski Area to open October with shutout victories over Knoch, Highlands and Armstrong. In the senior night victory over Armstrong, all five seniors — Jackson Farmakis, Garrett Michaud, Zach Ronald, Campbell and Sciulli — contributed. Michaud scored his first high school goal, and Sciulli took off his goalie gloves to play forward in the second half, netting his first goal of the season.

But it’s a trio of juniors — Docherty, Fiscus and Spinola — who will lead the Talbots this postseason and beyond.

“Those guys came in with that expectation and a bit of a weight on their shoulders,” McAwley said. “They wanted to carry on that legacy from last year. They have definitely succeeded. But also they have learned throughout this whole process that this is about creating a new legacy of what this year’s team will look like and what next year’s team will look like, when they will be seniors. It’s not necessarily as important as continuing what we did last year. … This is a different chapter, and they’ve kind of come into their own throughout the season in that regard.”


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