Hampton girls lacrosse star racks up eye-popping stats in abbreviated career

Saturday, June 5, 2021 | 11:34 AM

Hampton girls lacrosse coach Kelsey Viets felt disbelief as she tabulated star midfielder Megan Cook’s career statistics.

“You look at the stats on paper and you think, ‘There’s no way this kid did this in three years,’” Viets said. “It’s truly incredible.”

Despite losing her junior season to the covid pandemic, Cook has cemented her name in the Hampton record books.

The Kent State-bound senior shattered the school’s single-season record with 85 goals, obliterating the mark of 61 set by Caroline Larkin in 2017. Cook graduates as the program’s third all-time goal scorer with 143 and ranks fourth with 170 career points. She is first in career draw wins (190) and third in competitive ground balls (150).

Cook would almost certainly be No. 1 in every category — by a wide margin — had the coronavirus not wiped out the 2020 spring sports season.

“It’s a little gut-wrenching as a coach to think what could have been for a four-year career in high school, just knowing how dominant she was her senior year,” Viets said.

Cook’s high school career — and the Talbots’ 2021 season — ended with a 16-13 loss to No. 3 seed Mars at Shaler in the WPIAL Class 2A semifinals May 24.

The No. 2 seeded Talbots (12-7) beat Quaker Valley, 17-10, in the WPIAL quarterfinals, but they fell behind rival Mars, 10-4, at halftime and couldn’t complete the comeback in their bid to reach the WPIAL title game for the fourth season in a row.

“We would have liked to have kept going and made it to the finals, but we left everything on the field during the last game,” Cook said. “No one knew if we would even play at the beginning (because of covid). It was a great last season, especially for the seniors. We got really close and had a lot of fun.”

Indeed, it was a season of peaks and valleys for the Talbots, who went 10-0 to win the Section 1-2A title despite a starting lineup that featured only a handful of players with notable varsity experience. They dealt with strict covid protocols — wearing masks during games for much of the season — and lost IUP-bound senior midfielder Jillian Stennett for a month to an early season concussion. Yet, the Talbots stuck together, outscoring their section opponents 173-44 and reaching the WPIAL playoffs for the sixth consecutive season.

“I think it was a really good year,” junior attacker Hannah Acquafondata said. “We did our best. We played really hard. It would have been great to beat Mars, but that’s just how it went.”

A number of Talbots earned postseason honors. Four seniors — Cook, Stennett, who scored 24 goals in six games including a team-high seven in the WPIAL semifinal loss to Mars, attacker Lindsey Schwarzbach, who had 53 goals and a team-high 23 assists, and goalie Annaliese Winklosky — were named first-team all-section.

Sophomore attacker Emi DiLiberto, who scored 25 goals, earned second-team all-section honors.

More accolades will come when the all-WPIAL teams are announced, and Viets said Cook is a finalist for the USA Today Pennsylvania girls lacrosse player of the year.

The Talbots, who won WPIAL titles in 2017-18 and lost in the finals two years ago, graduate 15 seniors. Beside the quartet of all-section picks, the Class of 2021 includes attackers Meghan Welch, who will play at Denison, Danielle Perrone and Rachel Perrone; midfielders Liv Bianco and Adrianna Rossetti; and defenders Abby Prodente, Allie Cook, Molly Januck, Sarah Martin and Sarah Laus. Another senior, defender Emi Suyama, missed the season with a torn ACL.

With the covid pandemic, the senior class endured a lot of unprecedented demands.

“I asked them to be seniors almost two years in a row,” Viets said. “It was tough. It’s incredible to see what a bunch of 17-, 18-year-olds were faced with and how mature and responsible they faced each situation, and they were able to come together and rally and get us to the WPIAL semifinals.”

The Talbots will return a tested core, including Acquafondata, attacker Ashlyn Enright, defender Morgan Williams, midfielder Rachel Dolan and goalie Gia Castellano, all juniors, along with sophomores DiLiberto and Lauren Gale, a defender, and freshman midfielder Meghan Murray.

“They are going to continue to be a strong team,” Cook said. “I know that. They all want to keep improving and make the program even stronger, and I think they will do a really good job of that.”

Viets said Acquafondata, who had 16 goals and 16 assists this season, possesses the skillset to become the team’s top offensive threat. And with record-breaking Cook gone, the Talbots will need many players to step forward.

“Megan’s shoes will be hard to fill,” said Viets, the tone of her voice stressing understatement. “… It’s just amazing to look on paper and think of how hard she worked and how deserving she is.”


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