Jake Fenicle scored two goals, both in the second half, as Hammond earned a come-from-behind victory over Long Reach Thursday evening.
After falling behind, 2-1, in the opening minute of the second half, the Golden Bears responded with three unanswered scores to close out the game and earn a 4-2 win. It was the team’s third overall victory thru five games this fall after winning just three games all of last season.
“I feel like last year’s team would have had a much bigger problem with that (quick goal to start the second half by Long Reach) … we were so mentally fragile last year,” Hammond coach Brett Cutler said. “But this year’s team doesn’t get discouraged when we give up a goal. They believe we can come back and part of that is having some very talented and creative guys offensively.”
Of the team’s offensive weapons, none are more important than the senior duo of Jon Lippitt and Elliott Quinteros. Each of them registered a pair of assists against Long Reach Thursday, with Quinteros also scoring the team’s first goal of the game 14 minutes into the first half.
“Elliott and Jon are two of the better attacking players in the county, so it’s been up to me to come up with something where I could let them loose,” Cutler said. “They’re creating odd-man rushes and opportunities to attack, which we didn’t have a lot of last year.”
Although Hammond (1-2 county, 3-2 overall) had the run of play for much of the first half, Long Reach (0-3, 0-4) took advantage of a breakdown just before intermission to tie the score. Freshman Quentin Valiente got free and finished past Hammond goalie Angus Chandler (4 saves) with under 2:00 on the clock.
Then, just 18 seconds out of the break, Stevan Ditter put the Lightning ahead when he lofted a ball from roughly 40 yards out and watched it sail off Chandler’s hands and into the net.
“When the positives get rolling, we have a strong team and can do some good things and you saw that there toward the end of the first half and to start the second,” Long Reach coach John Horner said. “We have some strong presence up top that can be very dangerous, but to take advantage of that we have to avoid the breakdowns defensively. That’s the area we’re focusing on.”
A breakdown defensively just over a minute after Ditter’s goal allowed Hammond’s Fenicle to get behind the back line and into a one-on-one situation with Lightning goalie Matthew Slahetka (12 saves). The junior midfielder corralled the ball and struck a well-placed shot just inside the right post.
“I was thinking ‘please score, please score,’ … we were down 2-1 and we had to come back and tie it,” Fenicle said. “We couldn’t let Long Reach keep going, so when the ball came right to me I knew I had to score.”
Amazingly enough, just 15 minutes after his score that tied the game, Fenicle got another breakaway chance. And just like the first time, he again buried the ball inside the right post.
Nine minutes later, Orlando Canales pushed the lead to 4-2 when he slipped a low shot into the back of the net. That two-goal cushion held up the rest of the way.
Hammond 4, Long Reach 2
Goals: Ha – Fenicle 2, Quinteros, Canales; LR – Quinteros, Ditter.
Assists: Ha – Lippitt 2, Quinteros 2.
Saves: Ha – Chandler 4; LR – Slahetka 12.
Centennial 2, Mt. Hebron 1
Heston Priestley curled one into the goal 12 minutes into the second half to break a 1-1 tie and provide the deciding tally in an Eagles victory. Centennial improves to 3-0 in county play and 4-0 overall, while Mt. Hebron drops to 1-1, 4-1.
Centennial got its first goal courtesy of a penalty kick by Peter Vorel following a hand ball in the box. Mt. Hebron then answered back three minutes before halftime when Emmanuel Wright finished a second-chance opportunity off an assist from Lucas Rose.
Goals: C – Priestley, Vorel; MH – Wright.
Assists: MH – Rose.
Saves: C – Bicknell 6; MH – N/A.
River Hill 1, Wilde Lake 0
The Hawks got a goal from Kevin Kim off a free kick with 12:33 left in the first half and then played lock-down defense to secure their third straight county victory to open the season.
Goal: RH – Kim.
Saves: RH – Pats 2; WL – N/A 3.
Half: 1-0 RH.