Hammond snapped an eight-game winless streak and got itself a little revenge along the way Friday in the opening round of the 3A East playoffs.
Up against an Atholton team that beat them in overtime earlier this fall, the Golden Bears got goals from Elliott Quinteros and Jake Fenicle, along with a solid defensive effort, to earn a 2-0 shutout.
Hammond coach Brett Cutler said getting an early goal, midway through the first half on a free kick by Quinteros, was key to his group building some confidence and ultimately pulling out the victory.
“We had to score first and maybe even more importantly, we had to get through the first 20 minutes without allowing them to score. We’ve given up a lot of poor early goals lately,” Hammond coach Brett Cutler said. “We had to build some confidence and get through those early stages of the game.”
As much as the early score helped Hammond, it also forced the hand of Atholton, which has had scoring issues of its own most of this year.
“Once you get a team down like that in the playoffs, it’s pretty easy to sag back a little bit and force us to have to push up,” Atholton coach Roch Defrances said.
The Raiders did get chances in the second half to get the equalizer, actually outshooting Hammond, 8-2, over the final 40 minutes. A 30-yard shot by Tariq Putt-Bey with 14 minutes left in regulation that Hammond goalie Scott Lastova (8 saves) had to punch over the crossbar was the best of the bunch.
Nothing, however, ended up finding the net.
“We just haven’t been a good finishing team all year and you saw that again tonight,” Defrances said. “We can control the ball and carry it down, but for whatever reason we haven’t finished the chances when we’ve gotten them.”
Still ahead by one, Hammond provided the knockout blow with 5:31 left. Jon Lippitt threw a long ball up the left sideline to a streaking Fenicle, who got behind the defense and finished past Atholton goalie Trevor Graham (4 saves).
The two goals were more than enough for the Golden Bears’ defense, which held on the rest of the way for the shutout.
With the win, Hammond now advances to a regional quarterfinal game against J.M. Bennett on Tuesday.
“I came out today before the game and told the guys that ‘It’s not always the team that’s the most skilled, it’s the team that has the most heart and works the hardest that wins in the playoffs.’ ” said Lippitt, who is one of Hammond’s four captains. “These guys came out here and showed how much they wanted it.”
Glenelg 4, Lansdowne 0 (2A North)