Strong core looks to keep ball rolling for Hampton girls soccer

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Saturday, September 4, 2021 | 11:01 AM


The Talbots are hoping for more of the same in 2021.

Hampton has made the playoffs in girls soccer for five straight years and advanced to the WPIAL Class AAA quarterfinals last fall.

During the pandemic-riddled 2020 season, Hampton won its first section title since 2008 and finished 12-3 overall. The Talbots racked up a 48-11 scoring advantage in the regular season and a 47-8 edge in section play.

Although the Talbots lost seven seniors to graduation, they have a strong core of returning players.

“We have a great group of seniors to lead this year,” coach Bill Paholich said. “Our team strength will be playing as a team. We have been working on that aspect through preseason. We have no individual goals, just team goals.”

Senior defender Ava France and sophomore midfielder Madison Hurst were named all-WPIAL last season. Hurst netted a team-high 14 goals and was one of only two freshmen to earn WPIAL plaudits among 110 girls spanning four classifications.

France, Hurst, senior midfielder Jillian Antol and senior defender Nicole Fortes received all-section recognition. France, Antol and Fortes are team captains.

“I expect us to play as a team this season,” France said. “We are all good friends on and off the field, and every player has a very team oriented mindset. That has allowed us to play as one team rather than as individuals, which I believe greatly contributed to our success last season.

“We connect well with one another and push each other to be better players. I am hoping to build on these connections and the positive yet competitive attitudes this season.”

France has been a varsity starter for three years. She is a member of the Future Business Leaders of America and student council.

She carries a 4.0 GPA (4.4 weighted) and plans to study in the business or finance field in college. Among the schools she’s considering are North Carolina, Ohio State, Pitt, Maryland, Florida and North Carolina State.

“My personal goals for this season are to help my team as much as I can and to push everyone to be the best player they can be,” France said. “I also want to create an environment where the girls can have fun and enjoy themselves while still working hard.”

Other returning starters at Hampton include sophomore goalie Isabella English, seniors Sophie Kelly (F) and Angelina Conley (D), plus juniors Lucy Interthal (MF) and Kate Chapman (D).

English registered eight shutouts a year ago, including six in a row against section opponents Indiana (5-0), Armstrong (5-0), Indiana (2-0), Knoch (7-0), Kiski (2-0) and Franklin Regional (1-0).

English also held four opponents to one goal and surrendered just eight goals in 12 section games.

Three other players — senior midfielders Maggie Perkins, Zofia Lamory and Ruby Copelin — also are in the mix for the Talbots’ starting lineup this year.

“We do not have a (set) starting lineup right now as we are working through several injuries,” Paholich said. “We’re hoping to be full strength by our section opener.”

Hampton competes in Section 1-3A with Armstrong, Franklin Regional, Gateway, Indiana, Kiski and Knoch. The Talbots finished 11-1 in the section in 2020.

“We are expecting to be competitive in our section,” Paholich said. “There are a number of quality teams and coaches. We know Franklin is returning a lot of talent and Gateway is returning several all-section players. Kiski always has talent and Knoch and Armstrong are improving greatly.”

Hampton won nine consecutive games last year to start 10-1. The Talbots blanked Penn Hills, 5-0, in the first round of the WPIAL playoffs then fell to West Allegheny, 2-0, in the quarterfinals.

The Talbots have compiled a 42-15-1 record and won 32 of 40 section contests over the past three seasons.

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