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The strategy of basketball, the style of hockey, the physicality of football.
Growing crowds and new programs prove why lacrosse is the fastest growing high school sport in the county and why hopes are high that all schools will be recognized officially by the Virginia High School League in 2014.
The 2013 season began Monday night as both the Hanover boys and girls teams battled Glen Allen. At their “home” at Courthouse Park, the Lady Hawks easily handled the Jaguars 15-5 in the very first game in team history, as Michelle Knizner started strong, scoring four goals. The team lists 31 players on the roster, an impressive accomplishment for a first-year club. Head Coach William Karn will lead Hanover on its first road trip, playing Midlothian at SportsQuest in Chesterfield Thursday at 7 p.m.
At the same time, at Glen Allen High, the Hawks’ boys team began their third season against a much-improved Jaguars team. In 2012, Hanover easily won this matchup 15-3, and, for a time early on, it looked as if the Hawks would seize control of this game.
But for all their advantages in experience, depth, and ability, the Hawks’ inability to stay away from penalties allowed Glen Allen to hang around, setting the stage for a furious second half comeback that would fall just short, with Hanover hanging on for a 9-7 victory.
A two-man advantage to start the second quarter allowed Glen Allen to get on the board for the first time, cutting Hanover’s lead to 2-1 when Sam Lewis scored the first of his four goals. The Hawks responded with a three-goal flurry to take a 5-1 lead to halftime, the final goal coming as the horn sounded on a laser by Mason Bazala.
When Chase Crabtree found the back of the net 15 seconds into the third quarter to extend the lead to 6-1, all the momentum rested with Hawk Nation. But the Jaguars wouldn’t die, scoring twice within three minutes. Lewis would score during a Hanover penalty with 3:39 left on a dash down the field on a beautiful pass from goalkeeper Tyler Jahn, and Jaguars were within two.
The Hawks soared briefly, tallying two goals in 20 seconds late in the period and it was 8-4. The fourth period began with sloppy play, the Hawks being penalized three consecutive times, giving Glen Allen the man advantage for three minutes. The Jaguars took advantage, going on a 3-0 run to make it 8-7 with just four minutes left.
At the most critical point, though, the Hawks played smart, staying out of trouble, and outlasting Glen Allen, who simply ran out of gas trying to regain possession in the final minutes for a shot at the tie.
“It’s hard to get something going when you’re constantly a man down. I’m proud that when we did get the momentum, we finally stopped them,” Hanover head coach Don Kalinowski said after the game. “They could have gotten frustrated, but they didn’t.”
Hanover outshot Glen Allen 35-26, with Kyle Crabtree making five saves in goal. The Hawks travel to James River Thursday, then go to Williamsburg LC on Tuesday before their home opener against Mills Godwin March 21.
Other county teams begin this week as well. In boys’ action, Atlee began their season Wednesday at Benedictine, then host Patrick Henry on Friday night, a game which serves as the Patriots’ season opener. Ryne West and Sean O’Reilly return for a Raiders squad that posted a 13-3 record last year.
The Patriots, 7-9 in 2012, are led by new head coach Tory Hendelman. Patrick Henry lost eight players to graduation, but have returning offensive punch in senior Bryson Wong.
The Atlee girls team loses four players from their 15-3 team, returning 15 players including Stephanie Staples, Katharine Leitch, and goalkeeper Savannah Dicken. Coach Tom MacKay expects his defense to lead the team, and realizes the need to find new scorers at the attack. The Raiders begin play Monday at James River.
Patrick Henry posted its best record yet in 2012 at 5-8 and look to break the .500 mark for the first time. Coach Spencer Neale’s team begins play Tuesday versus St. Gertrude’s at Poor Farm Park.
At Lee-Davis, the boys team begins its second season having lost just five seniors from a 2-10 team. The Confederates look to take the next step forward in their program in preparation for possible VHSL participation in 2014. Coach Jarrot Patteson leads Lee-Davis into action in their season opener Tuesday at Pole Green Park against Powhatan.
The girls team, just like Hanover, are entering their first season of existence. Head Coach Catherine Ostoich readily admits lack of experience, which will be no excuse for poor performance.
“We are going to work hard while having fun. I want the girls to learn that you can be successful while still having fun,” Ostoich said. “It will definitely be a learning season considering half of the team has never played before. However, that doesn’t mean that we are not going to be competitive.”
Lee-Davis played its inaugural game of a six-game schedule Wednesday night at Deep Run. Look for complete coverage of their maiden voyage in next week’s Herald-Progress.