North Kingstown won just one game in the boys’ lacrosse regular season, but Bishop Hendricken wasn’t about to take the Skippers lightly in Thursday’s Division I quarterfinal game.
It was pretty clear that the Hawks didn’t.
After the Hawks raced out to a 6-1 lead, the Skippers scored two goals in the second period to make it 6-3. But Hendricken responded in a big way, never letting the Skippers score again and tallying 11 unanswered goals on their way to a 17-3 win.
“The second time we played them, I think it was tied at halftime,” said Hendricken head coach Kevin Murray. “They’ve got some good players. They lost some games, but they were in a lot of games. They’ve got good coaching and they’ve got a lot of seniors who have some gumption. They want to come and play. Our toughest games historically have always been with North Kingstown. They’re never going to just show up and lay down for you.”
By handling the Skippers, the third-seeded Hawks clinched a spot in the semifinals, where they’ll play second-seeded Moses Brown on Thursday at 8 p.m. at Brown University. Hendricken has now made it at least as far as the semifinals in each of its 13 years as a program.
The win over the Skippers wasn’t perfect, but in the end, the Hawks had taken care of business.
“We played well at points today and we didn’t play well at points, which I think the guys know,” Murray said. “We’ve got to put it together a little bit.”
Coming into Thursday’s game, the Hawks and Skippers knew each other well, having matched up in the regular-season finale, a 13-7 Hawks win.
This time, Hendricken took control early. With less than four minutes gone, Tyler Williams got Hendricken on the board. Seconds later, C.J. Marrinan made it 2-0, and a minute after that, he scored again to push the lead to three. Conor Garrahy and Andrew Fera also scored first-quarter goals.
In all, the Hawks went up 5-0, with all five of the goals coming in just over two minutes.
North Kingstown got on the board with six seconds left in the quarter. After Darius Jagminas made it 6-1 early in the second, the Skippers scored twice more and were threatening to work their way back into the game.
But the Hawks were having none of that.
Williams pushed the lead back to five with goals at 7:19 and 6:19. Then, in the final three minutes of the half, the Hawks got a pair of goals from Garrahy and another from Fera to take complete control.
They went to the break leading 11-3, and the second half was more of the same. The Hawks scored four more goals in the third period and tacked on two in the fourth.
The defense also shined. Long-sticks Dakota Hersey, Jim Iacoi and Nick Mariano led the way as the Hawks shut-out the Skippers for the rest of the game. Goalie Chris Cesario, who only recently grabbed the starting job, also did well. He made eight saves, including a few that left the Skippers shaking their heads in frustration.
“I thought the defense played pretty well and Cesario can stop the ball,” Murray said. “He’s a good goalie. He’s played three or four games now and every game, he’s had 13 or 14 saves. What else can you ask for? I don’t know if any other team in the league could put their backup goalie in and do that well. He’s always been a character kid, a team guy. He got the opportunity and he’s made the most of it. He’s rose to the occasion.”
The offense was led by Hendricken’s attacking trio of Fera, Garrahy and Williams. Together, they accounted for 12 of the team’s goals, with Garrahy scoring five and assisting on one, Fera tallying three goals and dishing out five assists, and Williams scoring four goals with one assist.
“They’ve come together as a group,” Murray said. “Williams has come around for us. Garrahy just got voted first-team all division, and Fera had a great night tonight. He’s got great hands. He snags everything, and he put the ball on the cage tonight.”
Jagminas and Marrinan added two goals and an assist each, while Joe Sousa had a goal and Jon Finelli had two assists.
The Hawks have now won three straight since a string of two losses in three games in early May. With All-Stater Alex Perreault injured and starting goalie Jon Petteruti out of action, it was not an easy time to start a streak, but the Hawks have found a way.
“I think it shows character,” Murray said. “Guys could have felt sorry for themselves, but they’ve played hard and worked hard in practices. It’s not a bad time to come together.”
The Hawks will try to keep it going as they head into the semifinal match-up with Moses Brown. The Quakers beat them twice in the season, but by just two goals the first time and one goal the second time.
“We’ve lost to Moses Brown two times, both good games,” Murray said. “It’s always tough with them. That’s what we expect on Thursday night, but we’ll be ready. We always seem to rise in the playoffs, so hopefully we come to play.”
The Hendricken-Moses Brown game is the nightcap on a semifinal double-header at Brown. Top-seeded La Salle will face No. 4 Barrington at 6 p.m.