More than halfway trough the lacrosse season, Herndon (6, 4) came into Monday night’s match against The Knights of O’Connell (4, 11) with a winning record. The new look Hornet Coach Dave Baggetta formed needed a win to stay above .500 and improve its chance at a low seed come playoff time.
Herndon did improve that chance behind an onslaught of fourth quarter goals to stave of the Knights and earn its sixth win of the season, 12-7.
Ten minutes remained in the match when O’Connell grabbed the momentum and scored to tie it up at seven. The Hornets didn't panic but instead grew aggressive. Herndon’s Alex Wilson led his offense on an aggressive attack scoring two goals to complete his hat trick, while his teammates added three more for a total of five goals in eight minutes.
“Over the last couple games we have wanted to have better second halves,” Wilson said. “We wanted to show a complete full game and I think that’s what we did today.
"Everyone’s trying to get better every day and its all coming together really well right now.”
Wilson, Matt Stevens and Jonathan Scimeca all scored hat tricks for Herndon in what began as a tight knit game. O’Connell struck first blood with 8:19 left in the opening quarter. However, Herndon bit back just eight seconds later when Brad Mank won the face-off, bolted down the middle of the field and drilled one past the keeper to tie the game. Mank scored again 57 seconds later to give his Hornets the momentum.
The Knights would tie the game twice but the Hornets denied O’Connell from taking the lead again.
Mike Newell and Dean Mamatas were stellar on defense for the Hornets. Newell led his defensemen in ground balls, cleared the ball brilliantly and flew down the sideline on several occasions to set up his attackers for scoring opportunities. Mamatas kept the Knights in check, literally with heavy hitting and pokes for several turnovers.
“When we get tested we know not to freak,” Newell said. “The coach teaches us to respond calmly and that’s what we do in the games.”
“We’ve definitely grown closer as a team, which will probably help us during the playoffs.”
Herndon headed into halftime leading 6-4 but O’Connell get its second wind and outscore the Hornets 3-1 in the third quarter to tie the game at seven with less than eleven minutes to play. That’s when Herndon shifted into fifth gear and blew the game wide open.
“I feel like the guys have made an effort to improve on the things we’ve asked them to,” Coach Baggetta said. “I’m really happy with how they’ve grown but still think there are areas we need to work on.”
The coach added that he has liked what he has seen from his senior defender but feels he can become an even stronger player.
“Mike’s [Newell] done a really nice job with senior leadership for us and improving through the course of the year,” Baggetta said. “He’s good on ground balls and clearing down field. There’s still some individual things were working on with Mike we think he can improve but we’ve been happy with Mike’s progress.”
Herndon plays at home against Chantilly on April 29 at 7:15 p.m.