Hampton girls soccer team came a long way during another playoff season

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Saturday, November 6, 2021 | 11:01 AM


A girls soccer season that began with the program’s most lopsided loss in a decade ended with the players’ heads held high.

Hampton rebounded from a shaky start to place second in Section 1-3A and reach the WPIAL playoffs for the sixth consecutive year.

The No. 7-seeded Talbots defeated No. 10 Thomas Jefferson, 4-1, in the opening round before losing to No. 2 Plum, 3-1, on Oct. 28 in the WPIAL Class 3A quarterfinals. Hampton and Plum had played to a 0-0 tie in the regular-season finale eight days earlier.

“Everybody was disappointed and thought we could have had more,” senior midfielder Zofia Lamory said. “But I think at the end of the day, we all are proud of how far we did come. I think we can keep our heads high after the season.”

The Talbots, after an 0-2 start that included a 6-0 loss at Fox Chapel in the season opener, finished with a 12-4-3 mark highlighted by an 11-0-2 midseason run.

“I was very happy with the season,” coach Bill Paholich said. “They are just a fun group of kids to be around. They really are. They wanted to work hard. They wanted to compete. And they wanted to win.”

The highlights included a 2-1 victory at section rival Franklin Regional and a 1-0 double-overtime win against West Allegheny.

Opposing coaches took notice. Four seniors — forwards Sophia Kelly (eight goals) and Jillian Antol (eight goals), and defenders Nicole Fortes and Ava France — and sophomore striker/midfielder Madison Hurst were named all-Section 1-3A.

France and Hurst, who scored a team-high 11 goals, earned all-WPIAL honors for the second consecutive season.

“We had a good season overall,” said senior outside back Angelina Conley, who scored the Talbots’ lone goal in the playoff loss to Plum. “It ended a little bit shorter than we wanted, but I’m proud of what we were able to accomplish.”

An eight-player senior class — Antol, Conley, Fortes, France, Kelly, Lamory, Maggie Perkins and Ruby Copelin — led the Talbots.

“Every single one of them played their best year this year,” Paholich said.

The seniors helped build team chemistry and guide a roster that included a dozen freshmen. Some of the seniors have been teammates since they were 8 years old.

“I think knowing each other for so long and being good friends and being able to be friends outside of soccer really just translated well into our team dynamic,” Conley said.

The Talbots will return a solid core, including Hurst, junior midfielder Lucy Interthal and junior defenders Kate Chapman and Amiya Johnson; sophomores Isabella English, a two-year starter at goalie, and Julia Herrmann; and freshman Olivia Hoffman, who scored eight goals during a “great” debut season.

Freshmen Sara Kenst, Kendall Hoolahan and defender Sydney Lewis also saw a lot of quality playing time this season as part of a promising freshman class.

The Talbots will meet in December for their annual season-ending banquet. Many of the players were emotional after the loss to Plum.

“There were tears,” Conley said. “It was just kind of heartbreaking to know that was going to be the last time we were all going to be out on the field together.”

Lamory, a first-year starter who is unlikely to play collegiate soccer, watched her high school career count down during the final minutes of the WPIAL quarterfinal loss.

“I kept looking back at the clock,” she said. “At the 5-minute mark, I knew we weren’t going to be able to make it back. I was just counting down the time because I knew it was almost over.

“I’m not really somebody who shows emotions outwardly. Usually at the end of the last playoff game, everyone is crying and stuff. That’s not really me. I was definitely sad about it, but it doesn’t really hit me until later, to be honest. Like when I come home and I’m like, ‘Oh man, that sucks.’”

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