Week 3 of Beaver County High School Football on Pittsburgh Sports Now is made possible by Vocelli’s Pizza, Moon Golf Club, State Representative Rob Matzie, Orlandini Family Chiropractic and Pack ‘N Ship.
Hopewell senior Samantha Hysong was pretty popular Monday roaming the school hallways.
Hysong kicked the game-winning field goal in the football team’s 16-14 win over Ellwood City on Friday night, and less than 24 hours later, delivered the winning goal in the girl’s soccer team’s 3-2 comeback victory against Blackhawk.
“I got a lot of attention,” Hysong said of her weekend heroics, from both teachers and classmates alike. “But it was really cool.”
Hysong is a four-year member of the soccer team but only started kicking field goals in August at the suggestion of her friends and family. Her winning boot against Ellwood City came on the heels of her first miss of the season and displayed her growing confidence as a kicker.
“I just threw it away,” Hysong said about her first attempt. “I didn’t think about it. I forgot about it, and thought I’m going to get this one—I have to get this one.”
Her kick helped the Vikings improve to 2-1 on the season, and for her efforts, Hysong was named Pittsburgh Sports Now’s Player of the Week. It’s a testament to how far she has come in short amount of time.
Prior to the start of August training camp, Hysong approached head football coach Mark Washington and mentioned she wanted to try out as a kicker. Washington agreed, brought her in for a tryout, and had her first attempt an extra point.
“She nailed it—deep, right down the middle,” Washington said. “You could hear the kick in the leg, the thump off the ball, and I was like, ‘Wow!’”
Washington moved the ball back five yards. Hysong drilled it. He pushed the ball back five more yards. She made it. Another five yards. Same result. When she sailed one through from 45 yards out, Washington was “bubbling inside.” It wasn’t until from 50 yards that Hysong first missed.
“She had the distance, she just missed it to the left,” Washington said.
Hysong’s performance earned her spot on the team, and she joined junior kicker Nicole Groves as the second girl on the Vikings football squad.
The senior was thrust into action in the team’s season opener against Freedom. In the third quarter, she was called upon to kick a 26-yard field goal and delivered, the Vikings first and only three points of the night. They would fall by a score of 7-3.
An opportunity for Hysong to kick against Hopewell’s second opponent, Burrell, never materialized, yet the Vikings scored a last-minute 12-6 victory.
On Friday, Hopewell led Ellwood City 7-0 at the break, but the visitors struck for a pair of touchdowns in the third quarter to jump ahead, 14-7. Michael Kovacic hauled in a 41-yard touchdown pass early in the fourth quarter, pulling the Vikings within one, but the PAT was blocked.
Midway through the quarter, Hopewell forced a fumble, setting up a short field. After the drive stalled, Hysong’s was called upon to attempt a go-ahead field goal but had it blocked.
Moments later, the Vikings forced a second fumble, and with just under six minutes remaining in the game, Hysong was given a second attempt from 32 yards.
“I knew it was going to go through,” Hysong said. “Afterwards, I was so happy and excited—I thought this could be the game-winning kick.”
Ellwood City worked the ball to midfield, but the Wolverines coughed up the football for the fourth time. The Vikings pounced on it and eventually ran the clock out. Hysong’s kick held up as the game winner.
Having a girl lining up to kick field goals is nothing new to Hopewell. Former Viking April Goss, who kicked for the school from 2010-11, drew national attention after she walked on at Kent State and became just the second female in FBS history to record a point in a game, converting a PAT against Delaware State during the 2015 season. Hysong and Groves are now following in her footsteps.
Hysong spends one hour practicing with each team and says the support from her parents, coaches and teammates has been great.
“They’re all so proud of me,” Hysong said.
Washington has two daughters of his own and called Hysong a “trailblazer for little girls.” He praised his senior kicker for her leadership and, most importantly, her ability to bounce back after having the first attempt blocked.
“She’s a tough hombre,” Washington said. “She came back and was confident about the kick, and knew she was going to nail it.”