ADAMS TWP — Athletes often talk of being in the zone — for a quarter, half or even an entire game.
Taylor Hamlett's zone lasted eight postseason games and ended with the sweetest of victories in Hershey.
Mars' senior forward scored at least one goal in every playoff game — which included four district and four state games — and tallied hat tricks in PIAA wins over Warren and Archbishop Wood.
She capped the season by scoring the lone goal in a 1-0 victory over Villa Joseph Marie in the state championship game Nov. 16.
Of her team's 36 playoff goals, it was Hamlett who found the net 16 times.
“Our scoring was so diverse this year. The focus was on us scoring as a team, not necessarily me,” said Hamlett. “It just worked out that I scored that many times and I was fortunate to get those opportunities.”
Hamlett ended the season with 43 goals and 28 assists and has been named Butler Eagle Girls Soccer Player of the Year.
“Taylor was able to improve her speed, strength and skill this year,” said Mars coach Blair Gerlach. “Teams game-planned for her, but she was able to counter that.
“She enjoys (1-on-1) opportunities and is dangerous with both feet.”
Also considered were Karns City's McKenna Martin, Freeport's Sidney Shemanski, Hamlett's teammate Ellie Coffield and last year's winner, Seneca Valley's Breana Valentovish.
Hamlett, Coffield and Valentovish were all named to the all-state team.
Hamlett was a potent offensive threat prior to this season, tallying 28 goals and 22 assists a year ago and 16 goals and 21 assists as a sophomore.
But she reached a different level this year.
“I trained with the Pittsburgh Riverhounds Academy last spring and it showed me things I needed to work on,” she said. “I definitely stepped my game up this year.”
Entering the fall sports season, Hamlett still had the memory of playing on two straight WPIAL runner-up teams in 2017 and 2018.
“My goal was to help the team win some sort of title,” she said. “Once we won the WPIAL (4-0 over Plum), we knew we weren't done. We knew we could make a dent in the state playoffs.”
Beyond her experience and ability, Hamlett possesses an unbreakable competitive spirit.
“I've always been that way,” she said. “Even in training sessions, I don't want to lose. I'm the kind of person who will keep going until the whistle blows.”
Hamlett will soon take that drive to win to Middle Tennessee State, where she will receive a full scholarship.
“I visited there last summer and after leaving, I looked at my mom and said, 'This is where I want to be.'
“I met the coaching staff and the things they promote ... they're very excited and motivated. I bought into that.”
By doing so, Hamlett can cross another goal off the list.
“When I started high school, that's when I knew I wanted to play in college,” she said. “I can't picture my life without soccer.”
Taylor Hamlett is the daughter of Bo and Sharon Hamlett of Valencia.