Hampton’s Hirst earns All-American honors for girls lacrosse

Thursday, July 12, 2018 | 10:51 PM

Unlike many of her fellow classmates, senior Rachel Hirst arrived as a freshman at Hampton as the new kid on the block. Many her age had been playing lacrosse together since middle school.

“I always heard good things about Hampton,” she said. “I looked at their records before I came here and what awards they’d gotten. I was like, ‘I hope that turns out to be our senior class.’”

Those hopes came true in just about every way possible for Hirst, who capped off a stellar senior season by being named an All-American by U.S. Lacrosse — one of only seven WPIAL girls honored.

“I didn’t find out until the night of our banquet,” Hirst said. “I was just so excited and happy. It’s a huge accomplishment.”

The attacker also set an individual record, finishing with the most assists in program history (78), and helped Hampton to consecutive WPIAL Class 2A championships the past two seasons.

“When I was younger, I was like ‘I have to score and have the most goals,’” she said. “But as I got older, it’s not about who has the most goals. It’s the girl who sets up the plays. I wanted to be that person.”

Hirst has been scoring and setting up plays since she was on the East End Lacrosse youth teams in fifth grade. By the time her family moved to Hampton her freshman year, she knew it was a passion she wanted to pursue.

“I knew I loved the sport and was going to keep with it,” she said. “I was super nervous at first because it was a new school and a new team. But I immediately felt welcomed and was super excited to start.”

Hirst is the second Hampton player in as many years to earn All-American honors. Last year, it was fellow senior Rachel Mattson.

After considering college offers her junior year, she committed to continuing her career at Division II Mercyhurst.

“I didn’t it want to be too huge or too small. … I think it just came down to the distance and looking at the team,” said Hirst, who paid the school an official visit after correspondence with coach Kevin Cooke. “I know some people who went to Mercyhurst, and they know the girls on the lacrosse team.”

Mercyhurst also features goalkeeper Abby Miller from Seneca Valley.

Tthe Lakers are coming off a 13-7 season with an NCAA Tournament appearance. Hirst, who carries a GPA of 3.2, plans to major in physical therapy.

“I talked to some of the girls on the team already, and they (are in the same major),” she said. “I wanted to do something sports-related because I love sports. I want to stay involved.”

Devon Moore is a freelance writer.

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