Loaded senior class has Hampton girls lacrosse seeking 3rd WPIAL title since ’17

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Saturday, April 10, 2021 | 11:01 AM


On the eve of each home section game, the Hampton girls lacrosse players gather after practice for a team dinner.

On game day, all eyes are on the Cook.

Hampton midfielder Megan Cook is one of the most exciting players in Western Pennsylvania and is a key reason why the senior-laden Talbots are one of the top contenders for the WPIAL Class AA crown.

“She is incredibly talented athletically, and her field awareness is one of the best I’ve ever seen,” eighth-year coach Kelsey Viets said. “It’s a lot of fun to watch. And fun to coach.”

Cook, a Kent State recruit, has scored a team-high 13 goals for Hampton, which improved to 2-1 with a 17-0 victory over Greensburg Salem on April 7.

Cook burst onto the scene as a freshman with four goals in an 11-9 win over Quaker Valley in the 2018 WPIAL Class AA title game and added 49 goals as a sophomore for the WPIAL runner-up Talbots. Her junior season, of course, was lost to the covid shutdown.

“I think we are doing a really good job working together, and I’m excited for the season,” Cook said. “I think from not playing at all last year, we are doing a lot better than I think we all expected.”

Hampton was denied shot at a WPIAL Class AA three-peat with a 15-12 loss to Oakland Catholic in 2019 title game. But this season is full of promise. The Talbots feature 16 seniors, including Cook, IUP commit Jillian Stennett, who scored 44 goals as a sophomore, and Denison-bound Meghan Welch. They are bolstered by the largest roster in Viets’ eight seasons with 43 players combined on varsity and junior varsity.

“All of (the WPIAL teams) are in the same boat,” Viets said. “Our kids haven’t seen the field since 2019, and a lot of them were not starters at that point. Everyone feels like they are kind of in a rebuilding phase.

“I am very fortunate that I have 43 girls. … We feel good about the depth of our program.”

Among the Talbots’ top 12 players, 10 are seniors: Defenders Abby Prodente, Allie Cook (Megan’s twin sister), Liv Bianco and Molly Januck; midfielders Cook and Stennett; attackers Lindsey Schwarzbach, who scored 26 goals as a sophomore, Danielle Perrone and Welch; and goalie Annaliese Winklosky.

They are joined by junior midfielder Sophia Kelly, a three-sport standout, and promising sophomore attack Emi DiLiberto.

The top six teams in the 11-team Section 1-AA advance to the WPIAL playoffs, so the Talbots are clear favorites to reach the postseason for the 10th time in 11 seasons. They were scheduled to face Franklin Regional on April 12 in a key early-season game.

“Our goal is to work together and get as far as we can,” said Stennett, who missed practice April 6 with a concussion. “Hopefully, make it to WPIALs again. Even win it, maybe.”

Viets said Cook “could definitely” break the school’s single-season scoring record with 61 goals. But Cook isn’t worried about individual achievements.

“It’s possible,” she said, “but that’s not my main focus right now. I’m just excited for this season, with my team.”

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