Hampton boys lacrosse reaches program milestone at state tournament
Thursday, June 6, 2019 | 4:59 PM
In one snapshot, it was the same story for the Hampton boys lacrosse team. But in the big picture, the team went further than any before it.
Hampton’s season ended with a 12-5 loss to Strath Haven in the second round of the PIAA tournament, but the team became the first in school history, and one of only a handful of Class AA teams in WPIAL history, to advance past the first round of the state playoffs.
Not only did they advance, but the Talbots dominated the first round with an 11-3 victory over Meadville.
“We came in there to get as far as we could,” senior captain Alex Winklosky said. “We wanted to push forward and do something Hampton has never done before. It was a great milestone for us. We wanted to push into the state championship, but unfortunately it didn’t go our way.”
The same could not be said about the end result of another WPIAL championship tilt with rival Mars, which has now taken the last four championships from Hampton — this one in excruciating fashion. Hampton suffered a 9-8 overtime loss in the WPIAL title game and was awarded another silver medal.
Though the team closed the talent gap from last year’s 17-4 drubbing in the same matchup, Hampton (18-4) just couldn’t get a stop when it needed it most. The team held a two-goal lead on six different occasions, but couldn’t close the deal.
“This year, especially being so close, it really hurt,” Winklosky said. “Coming through the playoffs, competition like Quaker Valley got us ready. But we knew we had to pick it up against Mars. We played probably our best game. Mars had a couple lucky ones, we made a couple mistakes. That’s just how the cookie crumbles.”
Part of the reason for Hampton’s success this year was a new offense that embraced a team concept. The team relied less on individuals and more on ball movement in new assistant coach Ben Tackett’s offense, which emphasized structure and patience. The team had set plays, something Winklosky thinks made a big difference.
“I think with the implementation of coach Tackett’s new offense, it really helped us grow into a more patient offense,” Winklosky said. “Just the jelling of our team, how close our seniors were, and it worked its way down to the underclassmen. I think that’s what brought us so close to the WPIAL championship this year.
“The shooting was so much better, and everything just started clicking.”
Some of the underclassmen stepped into major roles and played a big part in the Talbots’ success. Perhaps none more than sophomore goalie Matt Huskey, who took over for four-year starter Robby Voinchet.
“He was fantastic,” said Winklosky, who said confidence was key when senior defenseman Max Obenrader was sidelined with a concussion. “On fire all year. He really put all the effort out there and was a standout guy. Him getting louder and using his voice helped too, because Max was out two weeks. That’s when Huskey stepped up.”
Juniors Ian and Josh Andersson stepped up big in the offensive and defensive ends, respectively, as did senior Max Fiehrer.
As it’s been the past few years, Hampton always seems to reload. Next year should be no different
“I think we have some standout leaders that can take this team over,” Winklosky said. “Overall, just the team … it’s a team now. They’re going to jell. I think it has a pretty good outlook for next year.”