Hampton stumbles against Seneca Valley, looks to rebound
When the Seneca Valley and Hampton girls soccer teams met earlier this season, the game ended as a hard-fought, 1-0 win for Hampton on the Lady Raiders home turf.
Hampton and Seneca Valley came into this contest with solid section records — the only section loss between them was that Hampton win in early September.
This time around, Hampton started off a little sluggish, and that — coupled with a handball penalty that led to a penalty kick — set the tone for this game.
Seneca Valley's Morgan Williams made good on the penalty kick, and although Hampton came back to tie the score at 1, Seneca Valley outlasted its rival for a 3-1 win.
“This was a total team effort for us,” Seneca Valley coach Dave Sylvester said. “The first game against Hampton was not our best, but we played a more complete game (this time).”
Williams set the tone with her score, but Hampton's Amanda Spencer shook the Lady Raiders' defense for a dazzling goal to tie the game at 1-1 at the 10:13 mark of the first half. The goal was a needed boost for Hampton.
“We were beaten to every ball in the first 15 minutes,” Hampton coach Frank Christy said. “We are not a great goal-scoring team — we gave up the penalty kick on the handball, and we can't match up with Seneca Valley on dead ball situations because of their height, strength and experience.”
Seneca Valley tallied another score late in the first half when Rachel Leake broke the tie to give Seneca Valley a 2-1 lead at the half.
Caroline Miller put the game on ice with her second-half goal that pushed the lead to 3-1.
“We all play together and we were able to come through,” Miller said. “Morgan (Williams) kicked it perfectly to me, and the ball went in off my shoulder.”
Sylvester will take the hard-fought win and said the key to adding to that total is teamwork.
“That is what I am most happy about,” he said. “We play together, and no matter who is in there, the players rally around (them).”
For the Lady Talbots the stretch run will be critical as there are five teams vying for the playoff positions.
“We have to play smart soccer, and against Seneca Valley we did not do that,” Christy said. “Even after we tied the game, we still hung back.”
Christy said his team had some chances, which is encouraging, and the shift to a more offensive-style in the second half helped.
“Seneca Valley basically wanted the game a little more,” Christy said. “We have to bounce back ... we are not used to being in a frontrunner position, and we snuck up on some teams in the first half of the season. Now they are ready for us.
“We have to bounce back this week. We can't have those kind of let downs because every team is good in our section.”
Jerry Clark is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-779-6979 or firstname.lastname@example.org.