It was déjà vu for Hampton boys lacrosse in the third quarter of the WPIAL Division II championship game Friday night against crosstown rival Mars.
But as the sun collapsed across the river at Highmark Stadium, the comeback magic the Talbots discovered in their championship victory against Canon-McMillan last season faded away with it.
Down 9-4 at halftime, the team reeled off six of the next eight goals to come to within one goal with 8 minutes remaining.
It brought back shades of last year, when Hampton answered a 9-6 deficit by scoring eight of the next nine en route to a 15-12 victory over the favored Big Macs.
This time though, the surge only gave way to a heap of missed faceoff opportunities and lack of possession down the stretch. Mars pulled away for a 15-10 win.
“Ninety-degree day,” Hampton coach Jim Vollberg said. “Our guys just ran out of gas.”
It didn’t help that Hampton’s midfield was decimated by injuries. Starters Drew Winklosky sat with a broken ankle, and Matt Andrews has been out all season.
“We had to rely on freshmen,” Vollberg said. “They did a nice job, but Mars is a good team.”
“I don’t think we won more than two faceoffs,” junior Isaac Capezzuti said. “That really hurt us. I think if we’d have had more possession, we would have won.”
Still, Vollberg is proud of the way his team carried itself in its search for a fifth WPIAL title.
“Great guys, great kids,” Vollberg said. “We didn’t win tonight, but we’re one of the classiest programs in the WPIAL, I think. We always win or lose with class.”
It’s a young squad that should continue to remain one of the top programs in its class. Junior attack Capezzuti and sophomore attack Richie Myros, who combined for seven goals in the championship game against Mars, will return.
The talk after the game was mostly about what the seniors have meant for the program.
“This team taught me how to lead,” Capezzuti said. “Taught me how to be a senior. I’m expected to lead.”
“There’s a lot of leadership on this team with the older guys,” senior Brad Gable said. “We’re a younger team, but the older guys step up. I know the young guys look up to us a lot, so I just hope they carry on the tradition and get back here next year.”
Hampton finished the season with a 13-7 overall record.
Devon Moore is a freelance writer.