Bright future for Hampton boys lacrosse
Saturday, May 28, 2022 | 11:01 AM
Hampton boys lacrosse coach Andy DeMichiei and his wife, Kristen, welcomed their first child, Owen, on May 10.
The former high school All-American also watched his Talbots program make some baby steps during his first season as coach at his alma mater.
“I think they showed positive signs and movement in the right direction,” he said. “I think it’s a promising future.”
The Talbots’ 2022 season ended with a 9-5 loss to visiting No. 5 seed South Fayette on May 19 in the WPIAL Class 2A quarterfinals in a game that was closer than the final score indicated.
The score was tied 3-3 at halftime before South Fayette netted a pair of goals in a 40-second span in the third quarter to take the lead for good. The fourth-seeded Talbots, down 7-3 at one point, pulled to within 7-5 with nine minutes to play, but they didn’t score again and fell to South Fayette in the WPIAL quarterfinals for the second consecutive year.
“We were never out of it,” senior midfielder Dylan Beranek said. “The scoreboard might have said otherwise, but we felt like we were in it the whole time. Effort was never an issue. We never gave up.”
The Talbots (8-8) stayed determined all season. They regrouped after a 1-4 start, which included a 19-1 loss to rival Mars, to earn the No. 4 seed. Expected to face a rebuilding season after losing 13 seniors from last year’s team, Hampton reached the WPIAL postseason for the 12th time in the past 13 seasons.
Opposing coaches took notice. Beranek, junior long stick middie Sean Donlan, sophomore defender Gabe Gannelli and junior goalie Kaden Hoolahan were rewarded with first-team All-Section 2-2A honors.
“I couldn’t be happier about how our season went,” Beranek said. “I came in expecting a sub-.500 season. Everyone was telling you, ‘Oh, you guys aren’t going to be that good.’ And we end up seeded higher than we did last year. I couldn’t be more proud with how our team played and how we responded to a tough start.”
The Talbots will be in good position to move forward again next season. They graduate Beranek (15 goals, 11 assists), whom DeMichiei called “one of the better leaders that I’ve ever been around,” and a quartet of senior first-year lacrosse players — Logan Schwartz, Christian Liberto, Kole Reiser and Joe Puccio.
Hampton will bring back “75-80%” of its scoring, including seniors-to-be Luke Hartle (34g, 17a), Maddox Lohr (25g, 21a) and Jacob Krempasky (29g, 10a), the team’s top three scorers.
Other top returnees include all-section picks Donlan, Hoolahan and Gannelli, along with juniors Derek Tronetti and Gabe Harris, sophomores Joey Nelson and Zachary Jacob, and freshmen Ray Kirsopp and Nolan Harris.
“We’re just returning a ton of talent,” DeMichiei said, “and will be set up for a good opportunity to make a run next year.”
DeMichiei also is optimistic about his feeder system. The eighth-grade team enjoyed “a ton of success,” he said, and another year of working hand-in-hand with the Hampton Youth Lacrosse association should pay dividends.
DeMichiei is stressing “vertical integration” between the varsity program and the youth teams, all the way down to second grade. He is working with Jim Schwarzbach, president of Hampton Youth Lacrosse, to coordinate terminology and offensive sets at the lower levels. DeMichiei is also looking to place more experienced coaches at the youth level.
“I think traditionally in the past it’s been a lot of parents who read the ‘Lacrosse for Dummies’ book and are doing their best to help out,” DeMichiei said. “But I think it’s going to be very helpful for our program to get guys who have played and have experience at the college level coaching at that youth level. That way, when guys get up to high school, they are a little bit more polished.”
DeMichiei is hoping to emulate perennial WPIAL powers such as Mars and Mt. Lebanon.
“(Mt. Lebanon) places so many good coaches and alumni throughout their youth program,” he said. “I think it’s one of the best in the WPIAL. They do a tremendous job. It’s something that they do really, really well, and something that I’m hoping to replicate here at Hampton.”
DeMichiei, for his part, is adapting to the challenges of being a new dad. He said returning home after the WPIAL playoff loss to his then-9-day-old son “put things into perspective.”
“I came home, and I was pretty disappointed,” he said. “I jumped in the shower, and coming out of the shower that’s when it kind of hit me. … I think coming home to him helped out and opened my eyes.”
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