Hampton seniors embrace boys lacrosse legacy

Friday, June 15, 2018 | 12:21 AM

For the Hampton boys lacrosse seniors, their last two high school games ever may have been losses, but for the program, the last four years were a resounding win.

The team advanced to its third WPIAL Class AA title game in four years and paved the way for future Hampton squads to have similar success. More importantly, the Talbots ended the season in the state playoffs after last year's expansion into the PIAA format for Class AA teams.

Though Hampton lost a 7-5 decision to District 3 runner-up Palmyra, it embraced the program's first experience competing with schools from eastern districts, including a four-hour coach bus ride to Hummelstown.

“It was really fun,” senior defenseman Isaac Gallogly said. “It's a lot of pressure, but it's not a lot of pressure. You're never going to see these guys again. It's just like club lacrosse. You don't know anybody, you just put it all out there and play your best game. I think that's exactly what happened.”

Schools closer to Philadelphia typically have a longer history of lacrosse culture and have been dominant over WPIAL programs since lacrosse was sanctioned as a sport in 2009. No WPIAL team in any classification has made a state final.

“They've got some talented players,” senior captain Ross Andersson said. “The farther east you go, the more finesse-focused they are. Over here, we play a physical brand of lacrosse. That's what we pride ourselves on. It was a clash of two different styles, and was so much fun to play.”

Hampton (15-7) didn't have the same fun in its WPIAL title bid, losing to incumbent Mars for the second time in three years, 17-4. The Hampton seniors never defeated Mars in their four-year careers.

“It was hard,” Gallogly said. “But we still made state playoffs for the first time in program history. For us, that was a win. That was our goal from the beginning, and we achieved it. Obviously, everybody was upset we lost the WPIAL championship, but to go to states was great.”

Mars fielded perhaps its best team ever — it came one goal from earning the WPIAL's first trip to a state championship game.

“They're a very good team and had some really good athletes,” Andersson said. “You've got to hand it to them. With hindsight and time away from that game, you admit that they deserved every bit of what they got. I think we could have played them better; there were plenty of issues in that game.”

As the sport continues to grow in Western Pennsylvania, conflicting opinions arise over whether a team like Hampton would root for its biggest rival to win against teams from the east.

“It's hard to say out loud, but I think you have to root for the WPIAL teams,” Gallogly said. “In terms of wanting the game to grow around here, WPIAL teams making it that far and beating Philadelphia teams is great for the game out here.”

Andersson, a three-year starter at quarterback and multi-sport athlete, had a different take.

“I have to say just because Mars is our rival I wasn't rooting for them. There's no sort of animosity. I was rooting against them. It's like some people were rooting for the Capitals in the Stanley Cup Final, some were rooting for Vegas. I couldn't root for (the Capitals), they're our rival.”

Regardless of opinion, one thing is fact: With the girls winning two consecutive WPIAL titles and the boys making three title games the past four years, winning it all in 2015, Hampton is one of the top lacrosse schools in the region.

Gallogly understands why.

“Our youth teams, there are so many parents that are fully invested,” he said. “Bob Voinchet (senior goalie Robbie Voinchet's father and president of the Hampton lacrosse boosters) was my coach for seven years, and he's still out there coaching the youth.

“There are people that really, really love the game at Hampton. And that's starting to show at the high school level.”

Devon Moore is a freelance writer.


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