North Xtra: Hampton soccer coach enjoys final season
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Hampton coach Frank Christy had planned to retire after the current season and it was a fortunate decision to choose 2012 and not '11.
Christy's team missed the postseason last year. The Hampton girls soccer program has been around 24 years and Christy has coached the program for 23 of those years and guided them to the playoffs every year ... except last year.
Going out on that note would not have been indicative of the career the veteran coach has had at Hampton.
The Talbots brushed off an uncharacteristic 7-11 season last year to get Christy back to the WPIAL playoffs one last time.
Hampton wrapped up the regular season with a 10-6-1 overall record and an 8-3-1 mark in Section 2-AAA.
The Talbots earned crucial wins against North Allegheny and Seneca Valley early in the season and they swept the season series against Pine-Richland, to seal up second place in the section and the accompanying playoff spot.
"We were a little more experienced this year," Christy said. "The defense is more experienced in the back and even though we are still not scoring a lot of goals, we are not giving up many.
"The defense has been quite a bit stronger through the course of the year."
The defense played its biggest games against Pine-Richland, shutting out the Rams on both occasions in a pair of 1-0 wins. Pine-Richland boasts one of the most dynamic offenses in the section, if not the entire WPIAL.
Christy credits the defensive improvement to the play of sophomore Lexi Maglio whom he moved from midfield to sweeper to solidify the defense this year.
"[The position switch] worked out very well," Christy said. "Lexi was a big key for us, she reads the game so well back there.
"The entire defense, they organized themselves and there is better communication between them and the keeper."
Junior goalie Trish Winters starts in net for the Talbots. She moved into a starting role midway through last season after an injury to the previous goalie.
Hampton only had to replace three starters from last year.
"Luckily with a couple moves it lessened the blow of losing those three starters who were pretty good athletes," Christy said.
"The fact that we weren't doing as well last year we wer able to get a lot of the younger girls more playing time."
Senior midfielder Amanda Spencer led the team in scoring with five goals this season. Spencer was an All-WPIAL selection last year when she scored 10 goals.
"She takes people one-on-one and her set pieces are good, too," Spencer said. "She has been unlucky this year with a couple great keeper saves or she would have more goals. She is so quick with her first step."
As a team Hampton only scored 22 goals this season but that figure still translated into 10 wins during the regular season.
Last season Hampton scored 33 goals but had a losing record and failed to qualify for the WPIAL playoffs.
"That is a testament to our defense," Christy said of the 22-goal output resulting in 10 wins.
Along with Maglio, the rest of the defense consists of junior stopper Taylor Starr, junior outside back Caroline Caridi and freshman outside back Allison Nestor.
Caridi is often designated as the player who marks the opponent's best forward.
"They are all underclassmen -- that is what is nice, they will all be back," Christy said enthusiastically even though he won't be coaching them.
Where he will be coaching Hampton is in the upcoming playoffs where the Talbots will try to extend his career with a deep run.
When the current group of seniors was sophomores, Hampton reached the WPIAL semifinals. In 2008 the team also reached the WPIAL semifinals as well as the PIAA semifinals.
So Christy knows the experience and talent are there for a serious run in the postseason.
First Published October 18, 2012 12:00 am