Hampton boys lacrosse surges into postseason

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Saturday, May 15, 2021 | 11:01 AM


Hampton senior defender Gus Wolf hopes history repeats itself in the WPIAL Class AA boys lacrosse playoffs.

But only some of it.

“Obviously, our big goal is to be able to see Mars again in the WPIAL championship,” Wolf said. “That would be ideal.”

They just want the outcome to be different. Hampton has lost to Mars in the WPIAL playoffs each of the past four seasons — three times in the finals and once in the semifinals.

But the Talbots know if they want another shot at solving their nemesis, they will need to take care of business in the early rounds of the WPIAL tournament. The playoffs were scheduled to begin May 17.

“We’re just going to focus on getting there first,” coach Jim Vollberg said, “and if we go up against (Mars), we will bring our best game.”

Since winning the WPIAL Class AA title in 2015, Hampton is 7-0 in the WPIAL playoffs against everyone not named Mars, and 0-4 against the Fightin’ Planets.

Four-time defending WPIAL champion Mars is once again the team to beat. The Fightin’ Planets are undefeated (15-0 as of May 12) and have outscored opponents 277-42. They are ranked No. 4 among all Pennsylvania teams by MaxPreps.

The Talbots have done their part, going 7-2 in Section 2-AA (10-4 overall) and qualifying for the WPIAL playoffs for the 11th time in the past 12 seasons.

They enter the postseason with eight wins in their final nine games, the only setback being a 14-2 loss to Mars on May 3. Hampton edged WPIAL Class AAA playoff qualifier Seneca Valley, 7-6, in overtime on May 10 and routed Plum, 14-1, on May 11 in its regular-season finale.

The Talbots are averaging nearly 11 goals a game behind top scorer Max Saltrelli, along with the Beranek brothers, senior Ryan and junior Dylan, and senior Eli Hartle. Senior goaltender Matt Huskey fortifies a defense that has limited 12 of 14 opponents to six goals or fewer.

“He’s fantastic,” Vollberg said of Huskey. “For my money, he’s the best goalie in the WPIAL this year.”

The Talbots also welcomed the return of senior midfielder Grant Dunmire, who missed the first month of the season after suffering a broken left thumb in a preseason scrimmage. He scored key goals in the overtime win against Seneca Valley.

“My hand feels good, and it feels good to be back on the field with everyone,” Dunmire said following the lopsided win over visiting Plum. “I am still a little out of shape, but I’m starting to get it back and knock the rust off.”

A turning point for the Talbots was an early-season 10-9 overtime loss to section foe North Catholic. Senior long stick middie Elliott Gmiter said the defeat instilled a sense of urgency into a squad that two years ago became the first team in program history to win a PIAA playoff game.

“We lost to North Catholic, and that’s something we never do,” Gmiter said. “It was a wake-up for all of the seniors, I guarantee you. We made sure that affected the whole team. We said, ‘We need to work. We can’t just dawdle around and expect results.’ ”

Hampton owns victories over six teams in the 12-team WPIAL Class AA playoff bracket, including Section 1-AA co-champion Chartiers Valley, Quaker Valley and Franklin Regional. And while the Talbots are eager for a rematch with Mars, they know they must focus on the present, not the past or one possible future.

“We definitely need to keep a one-game-at-a-time mentality and not look too far ahead,” Wolf said. “We really do have to come out and perform in the first round, if we want that chance (of a Mars rematch) to even happen. I think we all have that final goal in mind, but we know we need to play each game and nothing is going to be given to us.”

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