Optimism reigns after solid season for Hampton boys lacrosse

Saturday, June 15, 2024 | 11:01 AM

The Hampton Talbots compete in one of the tougher classifications in the WPIAL — Class 2A boys lacrosse, where Mars has won eight straight WPIAL titles and reached the PIAA finals four consecutive years.

Hampton is trying to compete with the Fightin’ Planets and return to the program’s glory days, when current head coach Andy DeMichiei was winning back-to-back WPIAL championships and becoming an All-American in the early 2010s.

Things are trending in the right direction for DeMichiei’s team.

The Talbots went 12-8 this season, finishing in third place in the WPIAL after falling to Mars in the semifinals and earning a state playoff appearance. Hampton’s season ended with a 8-6 loss to Trinity from District 3.

“A lot of (games for WPIAL teams in the state playoffs) last season were blowouts, but this season, we were able to keep our games much closer against tough competition,” DeMichiei said.

Many within the program are optimistic about the future of the Hampton lacrosse squad.

Gabe Gannelli, who was a senior defender for the Talbots, is one of those believers in the young group. He thinks the sky’s the limit and that some hardware should be headed the Talbots’ way very soon.

“I personally expect (Hampton) to win WPIAL and states next year. They are that talented,” Gannelli said.

Gannelli will be continuing his lacrosse and football careers at NCAA Division III Mount Union College next season.

Another senior committed to play lacrosse at the next level is defenseman Zach Jacob. He will be attending Westminster.

The seniors were a critical part on the defensive side of the ball, DeMichiei said, and replacing them will be no easy task.

“It’s hard to replace those guys,” he said. “They were four year letterwinners, so we’ll have to rely on some backups that had playing time last season.”

DeMichiei also said Hampton might have to hang its hat on a different side of the ball next season to try to win games.

“We’re relying on our experience and trying to win games because of our offense,” he said.

Hampton also suffered a key graduation loss on offense, as senior forward Joey Nelson had over 50 goals on the season for the Talbots.

They will, however, be bringing back their other two top scorers, Eli Schwarzbach and Levi Whitfield, who are coming into their junior years with multiple 20-goal seasons to their credit.

DeMichiei always has had a special place in his heart for Hampton throughout his lacrosse career. He played for the school from 2010-2014 and then moved onto Marquette. He was All-Big East second-team selection as a senior in 2017.

Now, after completing his third season as the head coach, DeMichiei says that he loves being back at Hampton, coaching the new generation.

“It’s something special and unique to listen to everybody’s conversations at practice and stuff,” he said. “It’s hard to find good coaching these days, which is something as a coach I take a lot of pride in.”

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