State champion Rams crush Hawks
It didn't take long to realize the Hendricken boys lacrosse team was in trouble.
The Hawks knew they needed perfection to beat La Salle, which had beaten them twice by nearly two touchdowns in each game, in Thursday's Division I semifinal and four minutes in they were anything but. Hendricken couldn't win a faceoff, couldn't maintain a possession and after giving up four goals in the first four minutes and eight in the first quarter, it didn't take a lax expert to realize who was heading to the state championship match.
The game was over, but Hendricken wasn't going to keel over despite what the scoreboard said. You don't go 9-5 in the regular season without having a little bit of pride and the Hawks have plenty of it. They played hard because they were playing for themselves, for their coach, for anyone and everyone who supported them this season. They walked off Pincince-Stevenson field on the wrong end of a 21-3 score, but they walked off knowing they went out on their own terms.
“We played hard, but we just couldn't get back on defense and we just got nervous with everything,” Hendricken goalie Ryan Williams said. “Lack of communication is why any goal happens, honestly, because if you don't communicate you don't know where to be. That's going to lead to one thing and another and the balls going to end up in the net.”
“I was happy with the effort. They came to play and the seniors, they lead by example,” said assistant coach Matt Clifford, who split head coaching duties with Richard Walsh with head coach Kevin Murray unavailable. “They put 100 percent effort forth and they left it on the field.”
La Salle scored on its opening possession and didn't stop until the final horn sounded.
It took 57 seconds for the Rams to get their first goal, 14 for the second and 46 for the third before Hendricken finally prevented a tally from going up on the board inside another 60 seconds. La Salle's fourth goal came with 8:00 left and it added two more when the Hawks finally got on the board on a goal by Cameron Duprey that prevented a first quarter shutout.
“Typically you can't get away with losing the ball. The wins always come with ball control,” Clifford said. “We did come up a little short at the beginning with ball control. Sometimes the younger guys get on the field in a game like this maybe they get a little hyped up and kind of get drawn out of their game. We tried to come back, get control of the ball and they were able to do so and get some goals, so that was nice to see.”
The rest of the game? No need to delve into the particulars. The 2017 La Salle team has the best coach in R.I. lax history, is loaded with seniors and could very well be the best boys’ team the RIIL's ever had, which it proved Sunday with a 15-0 – yes, you read that right – win over Moses Brown in the state championship match.
Is there some solace to losing to a team this good? Some.
But whom Hendricken lost to didn't mean nearly as much as how they played when they lost.
“You have to fight until the end,” Hendricken's Kyle Nygren said. “They're a tough team though.”
“The game's the game, but the most important thing is how you carry yourself. Whether you're down 10, up 10, down 1, up 1, it doesn't matter,” Williams said. “You should be playing hard and playing the level your own self expects to play and others expect you to play. We went down five goals in the first two minutes. I wasn't worried, I always believe in my team and I have to believe in my team because we've been through this whole thing together.
“I wouldn't say there's a point where I look at the scoreboard and say that's it. You play until the whistle and that's the end of it. Once the 48 minutes is up, then you can hang up the helmet.”
Hendricken scored twice in the second quarter on goals by Drew Chant and Dylan McSparren but went into halftime down 16-3. The second half was played with a running clock and both teams were able to empty the benches and while the Hawks didn't score, it wasn't from a lack of trying.
“Halftime you bring the guys in and tell them its all about pride,” Clifford said. “You know the name on the jersey. Just be there for each other.”
“Whenever you pay La Salle with their reputation you know you need to put it together for every single second of that game,” Hendricken goalie Ryan Williams said. “It can't just be one guy or two guys or the first line; it has to be all 27 or 28 guys that we have. We tried hard, tried to put together a perfect game but you cant get everything you wish for.
“I'm happy with the effort everyone put in this game and the whole season. I can't be mad at anything.”