The last time the Hendricken and La Salle lacrosse teams stepped on the field against each other, the Hawks shocked the Rams in the Division I championship game, pulling off perhaps the biggest upset in state history.
When they played on Monday night in the third game of the regular season, the stakes weren’t nearly as high – and neither was the level of play. With both teams fighting through seemingly constant penalties, the Rams built a big lead and hung on for a 12-8 victory.
But despite the shared past between the two teams, both coaches insisted that the match-up was nothing more than another game.
“A win’s a win,” La Salle head coach Steven O’Donnell said. “I think both of us – I just talked to their coach – probably didn’t play up to either’s potential. Beginning of the season, just a game.”
While that’s true in the grand scheme of things, as both teams still have seven regular season games left, the intensity on the field said otherwise.
Hendricken picked up 10 penalties – six in the first half – and La Salle committed six of its own.
The Rams, however, were able to kill all but two of their penalties. The Hawks allowed four goals while down a man, and twice surrendered possession when they had the advantage, leading to La Salle goals on the other end.
“It’s not from lack of effort; it’s from lack of execution,” Hendricken head coach Kevin Murray said.
In the first half, La Salle senior Jack Collins took control of the game, scoring six of his game-high seven goals to put the Rams out in front.
He scored less than three minutes into the game, and again at the 4:19 mark. Conor Garrahy scored twice in a 1:07 span for Hendricken to tie the game two at the end of the first quarter, but Collins broke it open in the second.
After Brady O’Donnell gave the Rams the lead just 18 seconds into the quarter on a jump shot from the right, Collins buried a long shot with Hendricken down a man to put La Salle in front 4-2.
Three minutes later, again with the man-advantage, Collins scored a nearly identical goal. Then, only 53 seconds after that, Collins carried the ball all the way down the field with his team down a man and scored on a jump shot.
The Hawks got one back on a goal from Chris McKay with 3:14 left in the half half, but Collins scored yet again with just over a minute left before the break to put La Salle up 7-3.
“I’ve been coaching Jack for several years, and I think he’s a solid Division I midfielder,” O’Donnell said. “He played that way today. He brought his ‘A’ game. I have no complaints about Jack Collins today. Jack was awesome.”
With Hendricken playing a zone defense, La Salle seemed to have no qualms about handling the ball on the perimeter and firing shots from long range.
Five of the six goals Collins scored in the half came on set shots from distance.
“I think the zone was effective, but you have to recognize where the shooters are,” Murray said. “Obviously, [Collins] hurt us in the first half. Going into the game, we knew who he was. It’s not like we didn’t know who he was.”
The Hawks came out firing in the second half, but La Salle goalie Matt Andrews stoned Alex Perreault on a shot early on, and Hendricken went down a man for a minute and 30 seconds after being called for two simultaneous penalties.
La Salle took advantage, holding the ball for nearly two full minutes before Samuel Ricci buried a long-range shot that deflected past the stick of Hendricken goalie Jonathan Petteruti.
“We just couldn’t recognize the guys that were scorers,” Murray said. “It’s not that difficult to figure out, but for some reason we just couldn’t figure it out. So we’re a little bit on the learning curve right now.”
With 7:45 to play in the third, Hendricken got back within four when Garrahy scored his third goal of the game on a highlight reel shot as he fell to the ground in front of Andrews.
Yet, La Salle wouldn’t give in. It maintained possession for most of the remaining time in the quarter, and eventually went back up by five when Hendricken double-teamed Collins, and he found Peter DeSimone in front of the net. DeSimone dropped a shot low, past Petteruti, giving the Rams a 9-4 lead after three.
“You’ve got to wake up before you’re out of the game,” Murray said. “Unfortunately, that’s kind of what happened to us a little bit. We dug ourselves a hole.”
The Hawks did wake up in the fourth quarter, but it was too little too late. Collins scored his seventh goal of the game 2:28 in, giving La Salle its biggest lead of the game at 10-4, but Hendricken got a goal from McKay with 9:14 to play. Perreault won the ensuing draw, and Jacob Moran was the beneficiary, as he got a pass in front and beat Andrews to cut the deficit to 10-6.
However, another penalty put the Hawks down a man, and Sam Ricci scored for La Salle with six minutes to play.
Down five goals, there was simply too much to overcome for Hendricken. It scored twice soon after Ricci did, getting goals from Jack Hendrickson and C.J. Marrinan to get within three for the first time since the first half, but La Salle closed out the game strong.
The Rams held possession for most of the final three minutes, and built the lead back up to four with 2:01 to play on a quick shot from DeSimone, providing the final margin of victory.
Garrahy ended the game with three goals, while McKay added two for Hendricken. To go with Collins’ seven, DeSimone and Ricci each had two for La Salle, which improved to 3-0 with the win.
The Hawks dropped to 1-2, and will be back in action on Saturday when they go to Portsmouth for a 1 p.m. game.
“I think as the year goes on we’ll get a little bit better, hopefully,” Murray said.