Westmoreland County high school notebook: New Hempfield girls soccer coach up for a challenge

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Saturday, June 10, 2023 | 11:01 AM


New Hempfield girls soccer coach Jim Jones has several goals. His team will settle for one.

Jones is set to lead a struggling program into what he hopes are better times.

He takes over for Aryn Askin, who is no longer with the team after two seasons.

How tough has it been for the Spartans?

Hempfield did not score a goal last season and finished 0-18. The Spartans were outscored 164-0.

Jones will inherit a 46-game losing streak and take the reins of a team that hasn’t won since 2019.

What might seem an unsavory undertaking is a welcome challenge to Jones, who was an assistant to Askin last season.

He has walked in the program’s shoes. He has seen the near-miss goals and felt the blow-back of breakaway goals going the other way.

“I’m extremely excited,” Jones said. “My daughter (Amara) came up through the Hempfield youth soccer program, high school and local Cup programs. I have wanted to help Hempfield soccer since she started many years ago. I coached her and all her friends.

“I definitely always thought I had some experience that could help.”

Jones, who played high school soccer in New York, joined the Army and was stationed in Germany within six months of his enrollment.

While in the military, he played soccer for the U.S. Army Post team.

He took a leave, though, because of an injury, and returned to Greensburg in 1997 and took a job with Bell Atlantic, now Verizon, a company he still works for.

Jones, who played in several adult leagues in North Huntingdon, coached youth travel soccer with Hempfield for eight years. He helped to form Hempfield Area Soccer Club in 2013. After serving two years as an assistant middle school coach at Hempfield, he moved up to the varsity.

“I know we have a long way to go in a difficult section,” he said. “We are setting goals this season that we feel we can accomplish. We have some great leaders coming back with our upcoming juniors and seniors, and we were able to get this upcoming sophomore class some valuable varsity experience last year. This upcoming freshman class will add a lot of speed up top.”

Hempfield, despite its Class 6A enrollment, does not have the thriving program of other Westmoreland County schools such as Norwin, Penn-Trafford and Franklin Regional.

“I have talked with this group and told them we can be the change of Hempfield girls soccer,” Jones said. “I think they are buying in to it.”

Recruiting

Norwin senior Jaden Streussnig signed to continue her track and field career at IUP. She was a key, baton-passing relay runner for the Knights.

Greensburg Salem baseball player Matt Scarpa will continue his playing career at Westmoreland County Community College. Scarpa was an outfielder for the Golden Lions.

• Saint Vincent will be the college hockey home for Norwin senior Ty Shigo. The forward has been a top player during the Knights’ recent run of success, which included a PIHL Penguins Cup in 2022.

Bill Beckner Jr. is a TribLive reporter covering local sports in Westmoreland County. He can be reached at bbeckner@triblive.com.

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