Hampton lacrosse looks well-balanced as season winds down

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Thursday, May 2, 2019 | 4:22 PM


During another stellar season by the Hampton boys lacrosse team, a familiar setback occurred . But this time, it seemed different.

After an 11-9 loss to rival and three-time reigning WPIAL champion Mars, which is undefeated against the Talbots (12-2) the past five seasons, Hampton felt hope the streak would end soon. Maybe when it matters most.

“They hate to lose,” coach Jim Vollberg said. “Even after the Mars game, a lot of them came to me and said, ‘We’re going to get another chance at those guys.’ And I said, ‘Well, yeah, if we do everything right, we’ll get another chance at them.‘ They’re not afraid to shy away from a challenge.”

The team, which features three college commits — Andrew Coholich (Saint Vincent) and Jake Schwarzbach and Alex Winklosky (Allegheny) — has been led in scoring by sophomore Max Saltrelli. Senior Will Meglio is second despite missing three games. But the scoring has been shared because of exceptional talent across the board.

“It’s a spread offense, so they lock one guy and we have another guy that’s going to go,” Vollberg said. “Brandon Stephany has had a nice year, as has Harper Cook. Overall, these guys are just competitive and they’re enjoying the season.”

Growth and commitment have led to Hampton’s rise as a perennial WPIAL title contender.

Vollberg remembers five years ago, the last time Hampton won a WPIAL championship, the team didn’t have a designated face-off person. It was Luke Andersson, older brother to current junior twins Ian and Josh Andersson.

“He really wasn’t a face-off guy. He just did it because we needed someone,” Vollberg said. “Four years ago, we told them there was going to be a need for this and they took the initiative to hone their craft and it’s really paid off.”

Seniors Schwarzbach and Ben Horvat win 70-80% of faceoffs, according to Vollberg’s estimate. When a team has that many possessions, it is tough to lose.

Likewise, the team has fortified its midfield and defense and shows no glaring weaknesses.

“We had a very stout defense last year,” he said. “This year, overall, it’s balanced. The midfield is strong, the attack is strong, defense, faceoffs … when I look at the team this year, there’s really not a weakness. I look around, and we’re not really wanting for a position.”

The defense has looked stout thanks to seniors Max Obenrader and Max Fiehrer assuming new positions down low at the long-stick positions. Sophomore goalie Matt Huskey, whom Vollberg raves about as someone with a bright future, has been putting in the work with goalie coach Terry Hales, who also teaches at the high school.

“He stays with him and gets to hear from him throughout the day,” said Vollberg, highlighting the added benefit of having a teacher as a coach.

“Terry has put in a lot of time with Matt. He’s had a (heck) of a season. We thought he’d be good, but he’s exceeded expectations.”

With the end of the regular season in sight, the seniors are gearing up for what could be a special postseason.

“The senior class is really leading the way,” Vollberg said. “Their enthusiasm, guys are stepping up and really taking to it. I think this class understands they don’t really have a lot more time left. This is it for a lot of them.”

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