Right from the opening whistle, the Bishop Hendricken soccer team was in a groove on Tuesday night against Tolman. It stayed that way right up to the final whistle.
Brandon Silvestri scored just 2:59 into the contest, and Chris Cambio added another goal 17 minutes later. The Hawks didn’t score any more after that, but they were in complete control on their way to a 2-0 victory.
The Tigers were credited with two shots on goal all night, but neither of them were real challenges for Hendricken goalkeeper Dan Escobar.
The game belonged to the Hawks.
“This was a good game for us,” Hendricken head coach Mickey Rooney said. “We passed the ball very well tonight. Tolman was actually chasing shadows a lot of the time. They got frustrated.”
The victory moved Hendricken from sixth to fifth place in the Division I standings, as it has 20 points and a 6-4-2 record. The top four teams in the division get a bye in the playoffs, and while it’s unlikely the Hawks will get into that group, they do have a shot at overtaking South Kingstown – which has 25 points – before the season ends.
Hendricken plays South Kingstown on the road on Friday at 6 p.m. in a game that the Hawks must win if they want to get a first-round bye.
Tolman is now 3-7.
Hendricken didn’t waste any time getting out in front. Freshman Lucas Gesmundo took a corner from the left side, and it floated perfectly to the middle of the box. Silvestri ran up to it and volleyed it into the top-right corner of the goal without the ball ever touching the ground for a 1-0 lead. That set the tone.
“We scored a really nice goal right off the bat from Lucas to Silvestri, and they then had to attack us,” Rooney said. “When they did that we kept passing the ball around.”
With 19:44 left in the first half, after a number of chances to take a two-goal lead, the Hawks finally did.
Anthony Graziano came up from the back to take a throw-in near the right corner flag, and he sailed it all the way into the box – something he did with regularity during the course of the game. On this one, Cambio was able to head it into the net after it was re-directed off a Tolman player for a Hendricken goal.
“We (capitalized) tonight,” Rooney said. “In the last three or four games we’ve capitalized on it. First time we started doing it, it was frustrating because it wasn’t getting there, the ball didn’t bounce our way and stuff like that. Now they’re getting used to it and they’re believing in it.”
The Tigers had their best opportunity of the night three minutes later, as they were awarded a free kick just outside the box on the left, and Sebastian Estrada passed the ball toward the goal line to a streaking Ibrahima Male. But Escobar alertly saw the play developing and beat Male to the ball with a slide, ending the threat.
“It’s always nice to get a shutout, that’s for sure,” Rooney said.
And the Hawks just continued to dominate. Early in the second half, Graziano had another throw into the box that ended up out-of-bounds. Hendricken had a corner kick in the 45th minute, and Gianfranco Paterno and Cambio both got free two minutes later but were called for offsides. In the 48th minute, Silvestri took a free kick from 32 yards away and hit the outside of the back post, narrowly missing a goal.
“The midfielders played great,” Rooney said. “I’m happy, very happy.”
It was more of the same the rest of the way, as Hendricken emptied its bench and coasted to a victory. It was also senior night for the Hawks, as they honored Escobar, Cambio, Chant, Graziano, Silvestri and Justin Matrone.
Hendricken has only two games remaining in the regular season. After the South Kingstown showdown on Friday, Hendricken will host 0-10-1 Woonsocket the following Friday. It needs to win that one – along with the SK game – and have SK gain only one point in its two games with Central and Central Falls in order to move into fourth place.
Otherwise, Hendricken is likely in line for a fifth or sixth-place finish, which would pair it against Chariho, Portsmouth, Tolman or Cumberland in the preliminary round of the playoffs.
The postseason begins Tuesday, Oct. 29.