Rebuilding Hampton girls eye 5th straight postseason berth
Saturday, September 19, 2020 | 11:01 AM
Emmy Chismer got a head start on what 2020 would bring.
On Dec. 10, the Hampton senior underwent surgery for a torn ACL after taking a twisting, bad step in a Cup soccer game one month earlier.
During a turbulent year no one will soon forget, Chismer carries her reminder in the form of a three-inch long, half-inch scar on her left knee.
“It was gruesome,” she said after a mid-September practice at Hampton Community Park. “I’m not going to lie.”
Chismer, along with fellow captains Sam Langer and Adrianna Rossetti, leads a senior class for the rebuilding Talbots, who are eyeing a fifth consecutive playoff berth out of a new-look, Mars-less section.
The Talbots, who opened the delayed season with a 4-1 win against Kiski Area on Sept. 15, are replacing 12 seniors from last year’s 12-6-1 team, including two-time All-WPIAL forward Logan Nicklas.
Coach Bill Paholich has 26 players on the roster, the smallest in his eight seasons. Numerous Talbots have switched positions in a bid to find the best combinations.
“Everybody is going to adapt to different roles,” Paholich said. “Everybody is going to find a role.”
The players are looking at the change as an opportunity, even if it comes with some growing pains for the Talbots, who host Gateway on Tuesday.
“We basically lost an entire starting team,” said Langer, a defender. “A lot of people are getting a lot of chances to show what they’ve got to fill those spots.”
Said Rossetti, a midfielder/defender, “I think people did a really good job of taking the initiative and working out on their own.”
Chismer, who has moved to her favorite position, outside back, this season, was among them. She still wears a bulky knee brace but her dedicated rehab allowed her to return for a high school sports season that was up in the air — for all WPIAL athletes — for much of the spring and summer. Chismer said she was off crutches after a week and a half and, once cleared, made efforts to work out every day after school in the spring. She never lacked for activity during the quiet solitude of a covid-19 shutdown.
“I was really focused,” Chismer said. “I had stuff to do on my own, so I wasn’t really missing out. I was able to focus myself into rehab and just come out really strong.”
Olivia Maknoon, Ava Lamory and Carley Klaas also will be counted upon to fill the void left by Nicklas, who is at Gannon after leading the Talbots in goals each of her four years.
Speedy freshman Madison Hurst is an exciting newcomer, and junior Sophie Kelly has moved to her preferred spot in the field after playing goalkeeper the past two seasons. Freshman Isabella English has taken over in net.
Section 1-AAA isn’t as gifted as last year. The path to the section crown no longer includes defending state champion Mars, which shifted to Section 4-AAA as part of the offseason realignment. For the first time since 2009, Hampton isn’t scheduled to play the nemesis Planets, who are 14-1 against the Talbots in the past 11 years.
If the two teams meet this season, it will be in the postseason. Either way, Chismer and the Talbots are just happy to be playing.
“We weren’t sure for a while if we were going to have a season,” Chismer said, “and it would definitely would have been a bummer if we hadn’t gotten our senior season.”
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