HAMPSHIRE – The Huntley boys lacrosse team wasn’t rattled when it fell behind in its biggest game of the season.
Down 5-3 early in the third quarter against Hampshire on Thursday, the Red Raiders scored nine unanswered goals to win, 14-8, and take sole possession of the Fox Valley Conference lead.
“It wasn’t new to us,” Huntley coach Dominic Saccomanno said. “We told the kids that’s what was going to happen in the second half if we got back to doing what we’ve done all season.”
The two teams played a physical game for much of the first half while Huntley (13-4, 6-0 FVC) committed penalties that gave Hampshire opportunities to score. The Whips led, 4-3, at the half.
James Borgardt scored 43 seconds into the third quarter to give Hampshire a 5-3 lead, and Huntley players regrouped and went back to executing passes and scoring on chances.
Andrew Baumley scored with 9:53 left in the third to make it 5-4, and Justen Jacobsen tied the game with 9:25 left in the third. The Red Raiders moved the ball down the field on a fast break during a delayed penalty, and Andrew Toman scored to give Huntley a 6-5 lead with 7:16 left in the third.
Huntley went on to score nine unanswered goals, leading 12-5 with 8:27 left in the game.
“It is such a game of momentum, such a game of swings, and sometimes a couple goals rattle off that quick can steal it from you,” Hampshire coach Collin Rustay said “When that happened, we fell into a shell, and I think it came back to hurt us a little bit.”
Baumley led the way for Huntley with four goals, while Toman, Dylan Abordo and Brady Mollsen each had two. Liam Manning and Connor Ardell each scored a goal.
While the game didn’t decide the conference champion right away, players from both sides knew that if they took care of business after Thursday, the winner of Thursday’s matchup would likely win the conference crown.
“This is the game that we’ve been looking at on our schedule for months, and this is what determines conference, same as last year,” Toman said. “We knew we left a sour taste in their mouth; we knew they would come out ready, but we came in prepared.”
Jackson Smith led the way for Hampshire (14-5, 5-1) with three goals and Borgardt scored two. Nate Jensen, Zachary Vodraska and Ryan Innes each added a goal.
Rustay thought his team limited Huntley well in the first half, but once the Red Raiders played their game in the second half, the Whips couldn’t hold off the scoring.
“We knew that this was a good team and that when it came down to it, we needed to play four full quarters, and we had a bit of a collapse in the third and it cost us in the end,” Rustay said. “We’re confident we’ll see them again and get it together.”
Hampshire will play at Dundee-Crown on Friday, South Elgin on Saturday and Cary-Grove on May 19. Huntley will play Schaumburg on Saturday and finish the season with Dundee-Crown on Monday and Crystal Lake South on May 19.
The Red Raiders hold a one-game lead in the FVC race after a game both teams felt was the championship. If Huntley wins out the way it expects, the Red Raiders will be riding momentum heading into the postseason.
“It’s extremely encouraging,” Saccomanno said about Thursday’s win. “I’m proud of every single player on this field and every single coach. It was what we needed going into this.”