The Bishop Hendricken soccer team is scoring goals. That was hurdle number one after last year, when the Hawks had an almost unbelievable scoring drought.
The best news for the Hawks is that goal-scoring isn’t the only facet of the game that’s working.
Hendricken rode a solid all-around effort to a 2-1 victory over Chariho on Thursday. The Hawks are now 3-1-1, good for a fourth-place tie in the Division I standings.
“It’s nice to be able to say we’re scoring goals, but I really like this team in the sense that we’ve won against a lot of different kinds of teams,” said head coach Mickey Rooney. “Chariho is very aggressive and physical and we got through it. Central is a very tricky, technical team and we did a nice job there. We’ve been seeing teams with different styles of play and we seem to be responding. I’m really happy with it.”
The Hawks lost their season opener to Barrington – who sits atop the division – but they’ve had a positive result every time out since then. They beat Central Falls and tied Central before victories over Cumberland and Chariho last week.
Against the Chargers, the Hawks scored in the first minute of play, watched Chariho even the score on a penalty kick but then got the lead back early in the second half. A strong defensive effort – including a great play late in the game – sealed the victory.
“This was a good team – they’ve got speed, they’ve got aggression,” Rooney said. “To step up and get a victory down here, it’s a good win.”
The Hawks led almost from the get-go. Thirty-two seconds into the game, Brandon Silvestri found himself in space 15 yards past midfield and put a shot on net. It arced perfectly into the top left corner for the 1-0 lead.
Energized by the fast start, the Hawks carried the play for much of the half, but in the 23rd minute, they committed a foul in the box, which set up a penalty kick. Dustin Tougas took it and made the shot to tie the game.
Both teams had a few chances over the rest of the half but came up empty. In the second half, the Chargers threatened first. Just a minute-and-a-half in, a cross set up a wide open shot, but it sailed wide.
Then it was the Hawks’ turn, and they didn’t miss.
In the 43rd minute, a long throw-in by Brady Chant set up a close-range shot for Christian Kirby. It got past the goalkeeper but a defender was there to kick it away. Unfortunately for the Chargers, the ball went right to Hendricken’s Brennan Martin, who smashed a shot into the net to give the Hawks the lead.
The goal was a perfect illustration of Hendricken’s offensive prowess.
“If you look at our stats and you look at the goal-scorers, it’s not just one person,” Rooney said. “Everybody’s playing, everybody’s scoring, everybody’s getting assists. We’re a difficult team to play against.”
The Hawks also took advantage on one of their biggest offensive weapons. Chant plays sweeper but takes the majority of the team’s throw-ins and can get it to the box with ease.
“It’s definitely a weapon,” Rooney said. “We really haven’t capitalized all that much, but that’ll come.”
Armed with the lead, the Hawks still had to hold tight for nearly 40 more minutes. They did so in impressive fashion, especially as the clock ticked inside two minutes. The Chargers got loose on a big run, but goalie Daniel Escobar made a diving stop. The ball got away, and Chariho put a shot on net, but defender Reed Worthington was there to head it away.
Chariho didn’t threaten again.
“It was nitty gritty down at the end there,” Rooney said. “Everybody did their job. I’m happy. Dan came up big. Reed was right on the line and he headed it off. They did what they were supposed to do.”
And the big play sealed a victory.
The Hawks will try to keep rolling with two more games this week. They’ll visit Hope today at 4 p.m. before hosting East Providence on Friday at 4 p.m.
“We’ve got Hope and we’ve got East Providence next week,” Rooney said. “Hope is a very skillful team so that will certainly be a tester. From day one, we’ve been just taking these little baby steps. Hopefully, it continues and keeps on going.”