The Hendricken soccer team notched its first win of the season in three tries on Monday, and it scored its first two goals of the young year.
But defeating North Kingstown 2-0 for the sake of Hendricken’s win-loss record was far from the highlight of the night.
Hawks’ head coach Mickey Rooney, at the helm for his 33rd season, picked up his 343rd victory – the most ever in Rhode Island Interscholastic League boys’ soccer history.
He passed former South Kingstown head coach Bob Cavanagh on the win list, and Rooney’s record now stands at 343-164-116.
“When they made me aware of it – I really wasn’t aware of it until last year at the banquet – and then the first game, I started thinking about it,” Rooney said. “I didn’t want to get too excited. The second game was like, ‘Oh man.’ I’m glad it’s off the back.”
Hendricken began the season with a 2-0 loss to La Salle and a 1-0 defeat at South Kingstown. When North came to town, the Hawks made a point to go out and win for their coach.
“We wanted to win this for him,” junior Brexton Kinney said. “We had to get it.”
It was Kinney who had a big hand in making it happen.
First, with just under 12 minutes remaining in the first half, Kinney made a move around a Skippers’ defender on the right side, and dribbled along the back line into the box.
North goalkeeper Ben Jones committed to him, and Kinney slipped a perfect pass to the middle of the box, setting up Chris Cambio in front. The sophomore fired it home for the 1-0 advantage.
“I think whoever got that first goal was going to have a good opportunity to win it,” Rooney said.
The game remained scoreless from that point until the 53rd minute, when a bounding ball bounced to Kinney just outside the 18-yard box.
Kinney kicked the ball solidly, and it flew into the top-right corner of the net for a much-needed insurance goal.
“He’s a nice player,” Rooney said of Kinney. “The more experience he gets, the better he’s going to become.”
Going forward, the defense bent some, but never broke, as it withstood various Skippers’ charges to hang on to the lead and, eventually, finish out the game.
“Shutouts are real important, no matter what the score was,” Rooney said. “Even if you win 10-0, a shutout is the important thing. And we lost our entire defense from last year. To get a shutout, that’s another good positive.”
Heading into the game, Rooney wasn’t sure if his team even knew that he was one win from the record. Once it concluded, a few handshakes and a Gatorade bath ended any doubt.
“No one had said anything,” Rooney said. “I didn’t think that they would be aware of it. Why would they, really? But at the end of the game, they were congratulating me like they knew, so that was nice.”
And even though Rooney was excited about the record, he was quick to point out that it’s not just a coach who wins a soccer game.
“The whole thing about the record is that it’s not really about me,” Rooney said. “I’ve had some great players over these years, and some great assistants – Dave Kenney, Dom Mercurio, Bill Johnston. I’ve been fortunate. The school has been good to me. They’ve let me come back year after year. If you get old, you get a lot of records. That’s what it comes down to.”
Rooney, who went .500 in his first year in 1979, before wining two state titles from 1981-82, has four championships to his credit, as he also led the Hawks to victory in 1987 and 1998.
“I had hair then,” Rooney joked.
Monday’s win for Hendricken moved it to 1-2 on the season, and Rooney has expected the growing pains that have come along with the start, based simply on inexperience and youth.
Yet, getting this win both for the record and for his team’s confidence, is something he hopes will jumpstart the group going forward.
“What I’m really happy about is that we got the win tonight,” Rooney said. “We’ve got a young, inexperienced team, and we needed to score some goals and get a victory tonight.”
Hendricken’s next game is today at Chariho at 7 p.m.