North Xtra: Champion Hampton ready to make move to Division I lacrosse
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Hampton High School proved it was the class of WPIAL Division II boys lacrosse in recent years.
The Talbots grabbed one last championship on its way out the door before it moves up to compete against "the big boys."
Hampton beat Greensburg Central Catholic, 16-7, last Friday at Chartiers Valley in a WPIAL title game that was its final one as a member of Division II. Winners of three of the past four Division II championships, the Talbots move up to Division I next season.
"We kind of realized that with winning D-II, because we graduate only four seniors -- two of whom were hurt the entire season -- we set this D-II title as the midway point for us because we'll be playing toward a much larger goal that will happen hopefully sometime next year," Hampton coach Greg Edleman said.
Edleman said that the program has been pointing toward the jump in class for a few years now. Although he said he was certain that Division II's top players could thrive at the Division I level, it is the depth that teams at that level have that will be the biggest difference.
Armed with strong youth, middle school and junior varsity programs at Hampton (the junior varsity team went 13-2-2 this season), Edleman quipped: "My job is easy -- just don't screw it up."
"I think our expectations are going to stay the same, and we go into every season with high expectations," Edleman said. "Our AD [Bill Cardone] asked me about our move to D-I, he said, 'Can you win championships?' I said, 'Yeah, I think we can.' And I still believe it."
Division I teams can compete in the PIAA tournament. There is no Division II PIAA championship.
Hampton went 14-6 this past season.
"The program is in excellent shape," senior goalie Mike Fiehrer said. "Winning three of the past four D-II championships speaks for itself, and we have a great feeder program at the youth level.
"I have all the confidence that my teammates will compete well at the D-I level next year."
Fiehrer returned for a strong senior season after being knocked out of the prior campaign early on with a broken leg.
"Last year, I watched from the sidelines," Fiehrer said. "I enjoyed being part of the team on the field that brought home the gold."
Oliver Ebeling-Konnig was the only other senior to contribute throughout this season because Alex Romoff and Mike Carone were injured. Romoff did not play the entire season; Carone suited up for the first game but was knocked out of that and missed the remainder of the season.
"We lost those guys and the presence they provide on the field," Edleman said. "But they were definitely there for every practice and every game. They kept the younger guys on track and focused and did a fantastic job after they couldn't play."
Edleman said the Talbots' roster had 15 juniors and 18 freshmen.
Of the juniors Dylan Szramowski and Andy DeMichiei made the biggest impact in the championship game, combining for nine goals.
Edleman said that DeMichiei, a Marquette University recruit, was named the WPIAL Division II player of the year and a USA Lacrosse All American.
"He was our leading scorer, our junior captain and definitely the face of the program this year," Edleman said. "But Andy will be the first to tell you all the [accolades] came because of all the hard work of everyone else."
Led by "shutdown" defenseman Max Happel, Edleman said the defensive corps that included Trevor Hough and Eddie Adams was a team strength.
"I think they were the best in D-II," Edleman said. "They did a phenomenal job of keeping the ball out of the net."
Luke Happel served as a gritty attacker, and sophomore Joe Holleran and junior Nick Dudenas each were selected all-conference at midfield, Edleman said. Athletic John Nigro -- quarterback of the Talbots football team -- also was part of that group.
Edleman said Jeremy Matelan was one of the only midfielders in Division II that would play both man-up and man-down for his team.
"We tried to get him on the field as much as possible," Edleman said.
After playing a key role for the Hampton hockey team that advanced to the PIHL semifinals, Ian Wood was a valuable contributor to the Talbots' lacrosse team, too -- his specialty being faceoffs.
"One of the biggest challenges we had was managing expectations," Edleman said. "I'm a big quote guy, and one I like is John Wooden said, 'To win a championship takes talent; to repeat takes character.'
"To get the talent we have to hone their skills and playing as a team, that's how they achieved their goals."
First Published May 31, 2012 12:00 am