Hampton boys lacrosse looks to build foundation for playoff run

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Saturday, April 1, 2023 | 11:01 AM


The Hampton boys lacrosse team was playing an intrasquad practice game in late March under the lights at Fridley Field when pouring rain began.

The soaked players were enthusiastic and energized despite the wet, windy conditions at the end of their two-hour workout.

And second-year coach Andy DeMichiei is starting to see some daylight.

“The senior class has kind of taken it upon themselves,” DeMichiei said. “We don’t have anyone on this team who’s been to a WPIAL championship. We are finally starting to accept who we are as a team and realizing we are not necessarily going to be the most skilled team every (time) out there.

“But as long as we are working our butts off and making simple plays, we are going to have a chance to compete for a WPIAL championship.”

The Talbots graduated only one starter from last year’s 8-8 team, which lost to South Fayette in the WPIAL Class 2A quarterfinals for the second consecutive season. The Talbots’ seniors have won only one WPIAL playoff game — a 16-1 first-round victory over Trinity in 2021.

It is a considerable drought for a program that reached the WPIAL Class 2A finals eight times from 2009-19, winning four titles.

But the Talbots (3-1 as of March 29) returned three all-WPIAL players — senior long stick middie Sean Donlan, junior defender Gabe Gannelli and senior goalie Kaden Hoolahan — and their top three scorers in their bid to make a playoff run this spring.

Seniors Luke Hartle (34 goals, 17 assists), Maddox Lohr (25g, 21a) and Jacob Krempasky (29g, 10a) last season combined for 88 goals and 48 assists.

Krempasky is sidelined until mid-April with a lower-body injury, DeMichiei said.

“We have a really strong group of seniors this year and we’ve been playing with each other for a long time,” Hoolahan said. “I have really high expectations. …We’re done getting knocked out (early). Something is going to change this year.”

With defending PIAA Class 2A champion Mars in the same section (2-2A), expectations are realistic. The Talbots lost to Mars, 14-0, in the first week of the season. The schedule also includes a trip to Eastern Pa. on April 21-22 to play West Chester Henderson and Owen J. Roberts. DeMichiei set up the trip thanks to a pair of his former teammates at Marquette who have ties to the Philly area schools.

“That’s a wonderful opportunity,” Donlan said. “We’ve never done that kind of thing before. We’re excited.”

Other starters include a pair of freshmen attacks, Levi Whitfield and Eli Schwarzbach, and defenders Zach Jacob, a junior, and sophomore Nolan Harris.

Gannelli, Harris and Jacob form what DeMichiei calls “maybe one of the better (defensive) units in Double-A.”

Seniors Gabe Harris, Derek Tronetti and Lohr, junior Joey Nelson, sophomores Josh Dunmire and Porter Kelly and freshman Noah Mlinarich are part of a deep group at midfield.

At defensive midfield, seniors Michael Santorello and Koda Carslaw and sophomores Jake Killian and Josh Carr join Donlan.

“I think they are coming back hungry and have that underdog mentality,” DeMichiei said. “As we start to grow into the skill that we have, if we bring that mindset into games — that we have to work our tails off if we want to win — I think that’s something that will carry this team pretty far.”

The top six finishers in the 11-team section qualify for the WPIAL playoffs, so Hampton looks promising to reach the postseason for the 13th time in the past 14 seasons. Once there, they are determined to avoid another early exit.

“We’ve grown up playing together,” Donlan said, “and the fact that we haven’t been able to make it far in the playoffs has given us an unbelievable amount of motivation to be able to push through these tough games and put our head down and want it more.”

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