Hampton boys lacrosse boasts strong group of athletes
Thursday, April 4, 2019 | 6:11 PM
What happens when you bring a group of experienced athletes from different sports and put them on a lacrosse team? Hampton is about to find out.
The boys team is coming off a WPIAL runner-up finish and a state playoff berth. While this group of nine seniors is capable of a better outcome, it will have to come together differently than last year.
“It’s a different type of team this year,” coach Jim Vollberg said. “Last year, we had six seniors, and pretty much every one of them planned on going on and playing in college.”
Plenty of them are capable of playing college athletics in something, but as of now, only one of those seniors — four-year starter at long-stick midfield Alex Winklosky — will be playing lacrosse after graduation.
“All of them are really good athletes,” he said. “Multi-sport athletes, and they’re kind of stepping up and owning their senior year.”
The attack will need to fill the gap of graduated All-American and Class AA player of the year Richy Myros, who netted more than 60 goals last season.
The team is off to a good start with senior Will Meglio and sophomore Max Saltrelli, both of whom netted 40 last season. Zach Krempasky and Andrew Coholich also will form an attack that will have a different style than last season.
“I think we have more threats on offense than we did last year,” Vollberg said. “It’s more of a spread offense. Richy was the guy teams knew about since he was a sophomore. Our offense had systems, but we didn’t want to tie those guys down.
“Just building around that whole team concept, not just an All-American or an all-world athlete like Ross (Andersson).”
The latter was a star midfielder who plays football at Johns Hopkins. Luckily for Hampton, his younger twin brothers, Ian and Josh, return as juniors with two years of varsity experience to midfield and defense, respectively.
“Overall, weirdly, we lost some really good guys, but I believe we’re more athletic than we were last year.”
The team also has a Division I soccer recruit, Harper Cook (Rutgers). Brandon Stephany and Max Obenrader were starting receiver and quarterback of the football team. Meglio was an all-star defenseman in hockey. It makes for a group that might not play lacrosse year-round but understands competition.
“They’re very athletic kids,” Vollberg said. “They understand sports, how to compete, the game, and they’re highly coachable, which helps.”
One player who is committed to lacrosse is senior captain Winklosky. He has been on a mission to take charge of the team from a leadership since last season ended.
“He worked with the underclassmen through the offseason,” Vollberg said. “He was at every practice and optional thing he could be at. ”
Hampton has had one major obstacle in its path: its neighbor and biggest rival, Mars, which has taken three WPIAL championships in a row.
All three of those titles came at the expense of Hampton: twice in the WPIAL title game, and once in the 2017 Class AA semifinals.
The frustration culminated in a 17-4 blowout in last year’s title game. However, early indications show a playoff rematch could fall in Hampton’s favor for a Planets team that returned only three starters. The teams faced off in an early regular-season contest Tuesday night, and Mars escaped with a 11-9 victory. Hampton led 5-4 at halftime.
“Our goal every year at Hampton is probably the same,” Vollberg said. “Winning WPIALs and competing for states. The kids seem to want it very badly. Mars is our rival. To see them win three times the last three years and beat us twice doing it, the boys have a chip on their shoulder.”
The Talbots will have to do it for the first time in four years without four-year starting goalie Robby Voinchet, who graduated and plays at Grove City.
Luckily for Vollberg, sophomore Matt Huskey spent the offseason attending summer camp, playing club, going to clinics and doing just about anything he could to improve his game.
“We knew he was the guy coming in,” Vollberg said. “We don’t have many goalies in the program. He’s super coachable and a really nice kid. He’s played very well. At this point tin the season, if he continues the same pace he’s going to have a very special season.”