Hampton edges Quaker Valley for 2nd straight WPIAL girls lacrosse title
Thursday, May 24, 2018 | 9:42 PM
After 50 minutes of back-and-forth action Thursday, the Hampton girls lacrosse team utilized a late-scoring run to stay ahead of Quaker Valley and secure an 11-9 victory in the WPIAL Class AA championship game at Robert Morris.
The win cements a successful title defense for the Talbots, who have won back-to-back WPIAL championships for the first time in program history.
“This is an incredible feeling. Going back to back, it's a feat. No one's done it in program history. We were the first team to win one last year. It's high stakes. The good thing is we knew what we had to do, and we went out there and did it. We executed, and we won that championship,” Hampton coach Kelsey Viets said.
“The seniors, I've coached them since they were sixth-graders. We made the transition to high school together, and we've gotten some pretty awesome things done now in high school. This is a special feeling.”
Katie Cyphers sparked the Talbots late, scoring back-to-back goals to help break an 8-8 tie and give Hampton a two-goal lead with in the final minutes. The junior forward led her team in goals this season, but was held scoreless in the first half of the championship game. Still, Cyphers came through when her number was called.
“She needed a little confidence boost at halftime, so we talked to some of the girls who may have been in their own heads a little bit. And that's just natural. It's natural to have nerves. I told her to maintain her composure and stay confident,” Viets said.
“She had 57 goals coming into this game, and that's not a fluke. I knew she'd come out in the second half, and I'm proud of her effort.”
Freshman Megan Cook also played an instrumental role in the win, spearheading the Hampton offense early in the game with four first-half goals.
Cook spent the duration of the regular season on the JV team. Her coach, however, said she had seen enough of Cook to know the first-year player could make an impact at the varsity level in the playoffs.
“She's a special kind of athlete. She was a fourth-grader when I started coaching her, and I saw the natural ability already at that point. She played JV for the majority of the season. We used that for development, but I told her to be ready,” Viets said.
“We pulled her up for the playoffs, I saw she had what we needed on the field. Scoring four goals to help seal the championship victory? I think she'll go home with a smile on her face.”
Rachel Hirst added two goals and one assist for Hampton.
Quaker Valley was led by a strong performance from junior Katherine Blaundgrund, who tallied a game-high five goals.
Blaundgrund's efforts, however, were not enough to offset a few costly turnovers committed by the Quakers' offensive attack. Regardless, QV coach Nellie Kraus said her players have no reason to leave the field with their heads bowed.
“The difference-maker, I think, was a couple of turnovers by our girls. That was it. I don't know if it was the nerves of the game, but they prepared themselves well,” Kraus said.
“They put it all out there tonight and did their best, though. They gave 110 percent. I'm just really proud of them.”
Hampton and Quaker Valley both advanced to the PIAA Class AA playoffs.
Kevin Lohman is a freelance writer.