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Highlanders battle back to down Hammond

Heathwood Hall’s Hunter Hodges tries to get by Hammond’s Jeb Berry as Robert Hodges sets a pick.

Heathwood Hall’s Hunter Hodges tries to get by Hammond’s Jeb Berry as Robert Hodges sets a pick.

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The Heathwood Hall Highlanders battled back from a two- goal fourth quarter deficit to down the visiting Hammond Skyhawks 9- 8 in SCISA boys lacrosse action Tuesday, March 22.

“I’m just real proud of my boys,” Heathwood Hall head coach George Scouten said. “We’ve got one of the best defenses in the state, and they always keep it close. Then our offense came on fire today. Some guys stepped up and played really, really well.”

One of those guys was freshman Hunter Hodges. He scored a total of five goals, including what turned out to be game winner with 4:23 left in the contest.

“I don’t think he was aware that freshmen aren’t supposed to come out and take the lead in a game like this, and he just did a great job. I can’t say enough about him. He’s out there leading the offense in a lot of situations; he was taking a lot of our face offs, playing some defense. So he was doing everything out there as a ninth grader.”

The Skyhawks grabbed a 2-0 lead in the first quarter with a steal and score from Landon Verano in the first 15 seconds of the match and and overhead blast from Heath Jackson with 1:46 left in the quarter. Hodges got his first goal a minute later taking a pass from Emile Vidrine. Hammond answered with a score from Ben Heroman to take a 3-1 lead into the second quarter.

Hammond’s Landon Verano charges toward the goal.

Hammond’s Landon Verano charges toward the goal.

The Highlanders scored the next four goals to grab a 5-3 lead with 7: 57 left in the half. Hodges had two, and Michael Balthazor and Liam Scanlon got one each.

Hammond fought back with consecutive blasts from Verano and Heath Jackson to send the game into the break tied 5-5.

Heathwood took a 6- 5 lead with a goal from Vidrine at the 4:55 mark of the third quarter, but the Skyhawks responded with one score from Heroman and two from Verano to lead 8-6 after three quarters of play. Verano finished with four goals.

The Heathwood defense took control in the fourth shutting out Hammond.

“Our goalie is outstanding,” Scouten said. “John Nagy is always there in a clutch situation, and I think our close defense– they are three of the best defenders in the state ( Vincent Genovese, Pete Peterson, and Henry Scouten, along with Ryan Shelley and Pierce Avery at long stick middies). Those guys are phenomenal.”

Hodges cut the deficit to one with a sidearm blast with 10:25 left. Scanlon tied the match at 8-8 with a goal a little under three minutes later. Then with 4: 23 remaining in the game, Hodges charged in from the right side for the winning goal.

His strategy was simple, “I went low, and you look for the ‘no slide’ and just go in and shoot it.”

Hammond held possession the final three minutes and got off five shots, but only one was on frame, and Nagy snagged that one. It was his tenth save of the game.

Skyhawk freshman goalie Thomas Young also played well grabbing nine saves.

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