Hampton girls lacrosse rallies to salvage season

Saturday, May 25, 2024 | 11:01 AM

The Hampton girls lacrosse team wobbled into mid-April, putting its streak of WPIAL playoff appearances in jeopardy.

But the Talbots found their footing.

Hampton won its final four Section 1-2A matches, including a do-or-die showdown with Winchester Thurston in the finale, to salvage an up-and-down season.

“At the beginning of the season, we were trying to figure out how to all play together,” senior attack Lindsay Fiscus said. “Then we saw that playoffs were on the line.”

A pivotal 14-9 victory over Oakland Catholic on April 29 followed by a 15-4 win at Winchester-Thurston in the winner-take-all finale on May 8 helped lift the Talbots to 7-4 in the section and clinch the program’s ninth consecutive WPIAL playoff berth.

The season ended with No. 8 Hampton (7-10) falling to No. 9 Moon, 9-6, on May 14 in the WPIAL Class 2A first round. But the late-season rally ingrained a sense of accomplishment in the Talbots.

“Obviously, we wanted to go a lot farther,” junior defender Olivia Graswick said. “But we are very happy with the effort that we put into that last game. This season was definitely one that brought the entire team together from a culture standpoint.”

Talbots coach Kelsey Burke, for one, will never forget the 2024 season. She was expecting her first child during the season and less than a week after the playoff loss, she gave birth to a baby girl.

“She’s ready to go home,” Talbots assistant coach Morgan McLaughlin said May 20. “The baby is healthy. She’s good.”

While the Talbots had a down year in section play — they entered this season 65-2 in their past 67 section games dating to 2016 — the players formed a tight-knit group on and off the field. With the help of booster moms, they threw a surprise baby shower for their 11th-year coach in early April. They also bonded during a team bonfire, team dinners, a Sister Olympics and a day of laser tag and games at a local arcade.

“The girls are just really silly and they are really close,” McLaughlin said. “They do everything together, from freshmen to seniors. They were all really great to each other, and it was really fun and refreshing to be around.”

The senior class will graduate midfielder Sienna Rex (41 goals), attack Lindsay Fiscus (34g), defenders Elena Herchenroether (32 ground balls), Greta Hamlin and Addie Hastings, goalie Jacqui Deah and reserve midfielder Reed Perry.

“I am so lucky to be a part of that class,” said Fiscus, who will attend Clemson and hopes to play club lacrosse. “I know we are all sad to be leaving.”

The defining moment of the season was the victory over Oakland Catholic. The score was tied 7-7 after three quarters before the Talbots pulled away. Rex scored seven goals in the win.

“The girls really responded well to get us to playoffs,” McLaughlin said. “We were pretty far out of contention two or three weeks into the season. The (Oakland Catholic) game was a must-win. Our girls decided they wanted it. That’s when I feel like we really started to come up on the season.”

Among the returnees next season are midfielders Lizzy Saponsky (13 goals), Ava Galuska (11g) and Lillian Ketler (15g), attack Emerson Pryal and Graswick, all juniors, three sophomores, goalie Taylor Whitman, midfielder Erin Baker and attack Ellie Alexander, and freshman center midfielder Dillon Perry (13 g).

Many of them will play together this summer in the Lightning Lacrosse League as well as playing on club teams.

“Everyone will be working on their game over the summer,” Graswick said. “It’s really just making sure everyone is working on their own on the things they need to improve on, and then coming together again next year like we did this year.”


More High School Lacrosse

Mars boys lacrosse falls to Marple Newtown in deja vu PIAA championship game
Optimism reigns after solid season for Hampton boys lacrosse
Already honored for soccer, Fox Chapel grad makes conference all-decade team in lacrosse too
What to watch for in WPIAL sports on June 15, 2024: Mars lacrosse, Shaler volleyball seek gold on last day of season
Mars boys lacrosse weathers early South Fayette storm, advances to 4th straight state title game