Jeff Hamon paid a compliment to his Bermudian Springs girls’ soccer squad in an unusual way that made him chuckle.
“They’re not cliquish, they’re just a clump,” said the Eagles head coach, laughing. “They’re a team.”
Hamon’s assessment is based on unselfish play on both ends of the field and a balanced attack that features a handful of capable scorers. The Eagles used that recipe to cook up a 10-1-1 record that included a share of the YAIAA-3 title, their first since a run of three championships from 2007-2009. Sharing success also created an opportunity to extend the season as Berm’s late surge netted an invitation to the District 3 Class 2A playoffs.
The Eagles travel to Wyomissing today for a 2 p.m. semifinal tilt with the top-seeded Spartans (17-1).
“The first key is the girls are really unified,” said Hamon of the late-season push to the playoffs. “The important thing for me was teams have ups and downs, nights where they aren’t always perfect. We had good nights, and when we were a little off we didn’t go down hard. We controlled the downs.”
Downs were few and far between for the Eagles, who orchestrated a pair of five-game winnings streaks. After dropping a 2-1 nod to perennial powerhouse Fairfield in its opener, Berm went on a five-game tear.
A rematch with the Knights on Oct. 15 resulted in a 1-1 draw, but again Hamon’s bunch rallied for five consecutive victories. A 2-0 nod at York Catholic in the penultimate regular season match set up a critical game at Littlestown on Halloween. Hannah Chenault recorded a hat trick in 3-1 victory that made Berm co-champs with Fairfield and locked up a playoff bid.
The success this fall was especially pleasing to Hamon, who wasn’t sure what to expect after typical offseason training was eliminated by the pandemic.
“We were hoping to get more spring and summer sessions, skill-building sessions off the ground,” he said. “That didn’t happen. Because of that I am very pleased with the way the team developed.”
Bermudian took a backseat to no one when it came to scoring this season, averaging better than four goals per contest. Part of what made the Eagles so difficult to defend was that a number of players could have the hot hand on any given night. Avery Benzel, Bailey Oehmig and Chenault are a nightmare for opposing defenses because of their ability to put the ball in the net.
“They have different strengths,” said Hamon. “Avery is a breakaway player, Bailey is a little more of a 1 v 1 player and Hannah has a way of controlling space. There is not an intra-team competition between them, they’ll switch from night to night. I’m thrilled with them.”
While the Eagle forwards and strikers are busy filling up the opponents’ net, the Berm defense has refused to budge on the other end of the field. Opponents have scored just eight goals against Hamon’s team all season.
“Lilly LaBure has been the core of that defensive unit,” he said of the junior who is a three-year starter. “Corrin Himes is a tough little player who goes after it and Emma Patton has really improved this year. I’m thrilled with the whole defense.”
That group will be tested today against a Spartan side that features the dangerous Abby Doyle, who has piled up 21 goals and 5 assists. Doyle leads all Berks County players in scoring, including teammate Isabel Marshall who ranks second with 18 goals and 7 helpers. Maya Abousaab (11 goals, 5 assists), Janna Abousaab (10-8), Cadi Hoke (5-16) and Hannah Hurleman (9-4) help pace a Wyomissing side that has seen 13 different players tally goals this fall.
“They’re good, they don’t give up man goals and they score 4-5 a game,” said Hamon of Wyomissing, which has 93 goals on the season. “We know we’re a bit of an underdog, but you can use that to your advantage. If we play good defense, we can hold them close.”