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Hooligans enjoying much soccer success in area

Commentary

There have been a number of outstanding travel teams in our local soccer district.

The Energy, a local u-13 girls team, went to the National Finals of the Presidents Cup, and the Blazers Boys Classic team overpowered teams in the PAWest on its way to winning the State Cup Championship.

But perhaps the most dominant team to come from the area over a period of years is coach Mike Pastore’s Hooligans Division 1 Classic team from the FC814 Altoona/Hollidaysburg combined club. The Hooligans began as a u-8 team and have won numerous prestigious tournaments and league titles.

Pastore has been a coach on the team for seven years, taking over as head coach three years ago. In 2019, the team won the PAWest Presidents Cup at the local level, but COVID-19 put an end to the tournament. Last year, the Hooligans won the PAWest Division 1 Classic Boys Division with a 6-0 record, while outscoring opponents 40-4 during the season.

Pastore believes their win at the Bethesda Tournament, where they finished with a 3-0 record in November, was one of their finest tourney wins. They outscored opponents 8-0, including besting the No. 1-ranked team in Delaware, 2-0.

The Hooligans scored more points than any other in the 52-team tournament. Pastore stated that the team plays together year-round. The squad is comprised of players from Altoona, Blair County Christian, Chestnut Ridge, Hollidaysburg, Northern Bedford, Cresson and Huntingdon. Nine of the 13 players on the 2021 Altoona Mirror Soccer All-Star team play for the Hooligans squad. The core group of players have been together for the past four or five years.

They currently have 19 players on their active roster. It is the depth of talent on the team that Pastore feels has enabled them to be so successful. “We lose nothing in overall strength when we substitute field players,” he said. “We have excellent team depth.” This upcoming year, as u-19s, will cap the final year of one of the area’s finest teams.

Elsewhere …

n The 2021 scholastic soccer year featured some outstanding players, but a handful of those stars were so dominant that they provided the push needed to lead their high school squads to league championships and district titles.

Those that provided that extra gear for their team included: Abby Kline of Northern Bedford, who tallied 30 goals in leading her team to the PIAA playoffs and was a United Soccer Coaches/Max Preps Player of the Week; Kat Longenecker, Central keeper who led her team to a 16-2 record, recording 66 saves (.83 save percentage) and six shutouts while notching seven goals for the Dragons; Morgan Sarver, the Altoona captain who scored a school-record 100 career goals, 41 in her senior year in leading her team to the District 6 4A championship; Jacob Gallaher, Cambria Heights keeper who had 156 saves and gave up only 18 goals in 18 games; Davis Dull of Blair County Christian, who notched 45 goals and assisted on 15 others, leading his team to the ACAA championship; Braden Callahan of Hollidaysburg, who set a team single-season record with 40 goals and 24 assists, taking his team to a 20-1 record and District 6 3A championship; and Collin Yeatts of Northern Bedford who set a new school record, netting 35 goals while assisting on 14 goals, while being named a PSCA all-state player.

n PIAA referees are at an all-time low, not due to COVID, but the increased harassment they have endured. Longtime PIAA referee Jim Fee stated, “Angry parents have followed referees out into parking lots after games.”

A zero-tolerance policy is being promoted by the PIAA and school district administration. In Pittsburgh, there have been cases of angry parents following referees home and assaulting them. High school games have already been postponed and rescheduled or canceled due to the lack of referees. Hopefully, this issue can be corrected by schools and the PIAA so that youth play is not interrupted.

Tom Schmitt writes a monthly soccer column for the Mirror.

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