Athlete of the Week: James Hathaway, Canon-McMillan
Name: James Hathaway
Hathaway’s week: Hathaway stopped a pair of penalty kicks in wins over Upper St. Clair and Peters Township, the former to preserve a 1-0 shutout and deliver the Big Macs’ first WPIAL Class AAA title for boys soccer.
The second stop – similar to the first, diving to his left – also contributed to a shutout, this a 2-0 victory over Peters Township for Canon-Mac’s first win in the PIAA Class AAA tournament, yet another way in which this year’s team has broken pretty much every boys soccer record at the school.
“He was clearly the difference-maker in those two games,” Canon-McMillan boys soccer coach Larry Fingers said. “We kind of joked that if there was a third one, would he be able to stop it?”
“I’ll probably never forget that,” Hathaway said. “Especially in the WPIAL final to help my team win the gold, then in the first round of states to preserve the shutout and put us through to the quarterfinals. It’s unbelievable that I saved both of them back-to-back.”
Always a goalie: Hathaway has played soccer since he was 5 years old and always has been a goalkeeper.
“When I was younger I used to play basketball as well, so I had good hands and wasn’t afraid of much,” Hathaway said. “I think when you throw younger kids in goal, they can be scared of the ball or scared to get kicked. I was never really afraid of any of that.”
Watch Hathaway play, and that’s glaringly obvious. Few goalkeepers are as daring when it comes to challenging an opposing player or throwing their body in the middle of a play.
That aggressive style of play helped Canon-Mac finish the year at 19-5.
Hathaway gave up just one goal through five playoff games before a 3-1 loss to Upper St. Clair in the PIAA Class AAA quarterfinals this past Saturday ended the Big Macs’ season.
They see eye-to-eye: Hathaway enjoys playing for Fingers, because the two share a similarly aggressive approach to soccer.
“It’s always interesting playing for him,” said Hathaway, who occasionally would take free kicks and scored a pair of goals this season. “We both have attack-oriented styles, and I think that’s partially because I feel like with all the teams he’s coached, he’s always had a pretty solid defense.”
Hathaway plays club soccer for Century United, the same organization where Fingers coaches outside of high school. Fingers was also Hathaway’s Olympic Development Program coach for three years.
Taking chances: While Fingers and Hathaway are familiar with one another, Canon-Mac’s tactics this season – essentially playing an offensive-minded 4-3-3 formation, at times even a 4-2-4 – put extra stress on Hathaway.
“It’s almost unheard of to play in high school, the 4-3-3,” Hathaway said. “Sometimes we would even play a 4-2-4 with four forwards. I don’t know of any other coach who would even consider starting a game in a 4-2-4, but that’s just how he is.
“I think he did that because he was very confident in us as a team and also in our back line as well as myself to be able to hold down the defensive responsibility.”
– Compiled by Jason Mackey