Hampton defense stops another foe, dropping Franklin Regional in state quarterfinals

Saturday, November 13, 2021 | 5:39 PM

The Franklin Regional boys soccer team suffered the same fate Saturday as every team Hampton has faced thus far in the postseason.

The Panthers were shut out.

It wasn’t for lack of effort or chances, as the Panthers probed and prodded Hampton for the majority of the match, but they weren’t able to find the net.

When Hampton got its opportunities, it buried them with Zander Plizga scoring in the seventh minute and Gabe Viszlay adding a goal in the 79th minute of a 2-0 victory in the PIAA Class 3A quarterfinals at North Allegheny’s Newman Stadium.

Franklin Regional also fell to Hampton, 1-0, in the semifinals. This time, Panthers coach Thomas Louisy felt his team performed much better.

“Hampton is a good team that has had an amazing season and got a well-deserved victory, but Franklin Regional came out and played an amazing game today,” Louisy said. “We played the way I like soccer to be played. We moved the ball, passed it and possessed it starting from the defense to the midfield to the offense. A few of the crosses and services in the final third could’ve been better, but we created a lot of chances. When we played them in the (WPIAL) semifinals, I thought they outplayed us, but today, I felt we were the better team.”

The Talbots will face West Allegheny in the semifinals Tuesday. It’ll be a rematch of the WPIAL championship, which Hampton won 1-0.

Plizga’s goal came off a nice low cross from Holden Pritts. The ball went all the way across the goalmouth onto Plizga’s foot and he buried a shot in the top right corner of the net.

After that, Franklin Regional possessed the ball for nearly the entirety of the first half looking for the equalizer, but time and time again, they were left frustrated.

The Talbots’ backline of Brennan Wesley, Henry Hughes, Zach Panza and Frank Galioto stood tall along with goalkeeper Thomas Bradfield. They’ve outscored opponents 19-0 in the playoffs and conceded only eight goals in the regular season.

“Franklin Regional has scored a lot of goals this year and has a bunch of different weapons up there, but something this team, especially our backs, take pride in is the ability to stay calm and composed in those moments,” Hampton coach Matt McAwley said. “They keep the play in front of them and not force any mistakes. Today was another opportunity for them to do that.”

Colton Hudson had a strong shot on net in each half, but Bradfield made diving stops on each.

Hudson also had a run at goal in the 48th minute, but he was knocked down in the middle of the field outside the penalty area. No foul was called and Hudson received a yellow card from the officials for arguing.

“Colton was running with the ball and the whole world could tell you that it was a free kick for him and instead he gets a yellow card,” Louisy said. “It’s impossible. I’ve never seen that in my 20 years of playing or coaching soccer. The player running with the ball gets tripped and kicked and he’s the one that gets the yellow card. It’s terrible.”

Viszlay found a loose ball and space late in the match and buried the insurance marker.

Franklin Regional sent nine shots on target and a half-dozen crosses that went wide. The Panthers generated five corner kicks.

“We were very dominant, but we couldn’t put the ball in the net,” Louisy said. “They got two or three chances and buried theirs and we didn’t. A 2-0 final is not a true reflection of the game.”

Jerin Steele is a freelance writer

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