As happy as River Hill JV boys lacrosse coach Kennedy Paynter was to see his team end its season Thursday with a victory, he was even happier with the way in which they got it.
Ten different players scored, including a handful of players who registered their first goals of the season, as River Hill defeated Hammond 13-2. At the end of a spring season where the team finished 7-5, the final chapter was exactly how Paynter envisioned.
"It is really nice to get all the kids in, be able to move them around to different positions and have all those kids score a goal that hadn't all year," he said. "Everyone got to be a part of today and I thought we really came together and executed."
Paynter even added a special touch, throwing an extra man on the field in the final seconds so that all 11 of his sophomores could be on the field at the same time. The moment wasn't lost on the players.
"That really was a great culminating moment in those last five seconds when everyone was on the field together. We may not have done as well as last year, but we really had a lot of fun together and all the sophomores really grew closer together," said sophomore Gabe Vinyard, who played goalie for two quarters and was one of the Hawks' players to score their first goal of the season.
River Hill wasted little time setting the tone against Hammond, getting a goal from Will Ferrer off a feed from Connor Lawrence just over a minute in.
By the end of the first quarter, Ferrer had added another goal and Michael Borkowski and Connor Rose had found the back of the net as well. The team didn't slow down in the second quarter, with Shane Delore (2 goals, assist), Garrett Vinyard, Kyle Guindon, Michael Borkowski (2 goals) and Cory Marciniak all getting into the scoring column.
By halftime, River Hill had a commanding 10-0 lead. Just as important as the goals, though, was the fact that eight of them were assisted. Ferrer, who finished with a trio of assists to go with his pair of goals, turned into a facilitator for the offense as the game progressed.
Overall, each of the Hawks appeared willing to make the extra pass and spread the wealth.
"The unselfishness is something that is really important to me and you could see it out there today that the guys really wanted each other to score," Paynter said.
On top of the offensive efficiency, Delore also excelled in the face-off circle to help the Hawks double-up Hammond in that category.
For as lopsided as the first half was, though, the Golden Bears showcased tremendous resolve out of halftime. By picking up the team's hustle on ground balls, cleaning up the passing efficiency and generating more shots, Hammond made it a much more even game for the final 20 minutes.
The Golden Bears were rewarded with their first goal of the game three minutes into the third quarter, as Ty Walburger fired home an unassisted goal.
"I've told the guys from the beginning of the year that we need effort and hustle. If we are going to make mistakes, make them going 100 percent. In that first half, we weren't doing that," Hammond coach Matthew Bounds said. "I basically told the guys at halftime that we have a half left in the season … one half left for this group of guys to play together on JV. I just wanted them to go out there and have fun.
"I'm glad they responded. We played pretty well in that second half."
River Hill quickly ended any comeback hopes, though, by registering the game's next two goals. Gabe Vinyard and Griffen Cinotti got the scores, both on feeds from Ferrer.
For Vinyard, who spent much of the season at goalie, it was a special moment to not only score but to do it in the same game as his brother, Garrett.
"I've been bringing my short stick to school the last few days, really hoping I would get to play the field. And then getting the goal was just that much better," Gabe Vinyard said. "I also was really proud of my brother for getting his goal. He wasn't on the team last year and when he made it this year I was really excited. For him to get the goal too … just a really great day."
Hammond and River Hill each scored once in the final period to create the final score. Hammond's goal came from Camren Crute and Chris Kim provided the Hawks' score.
In the losing effort, the Golden Bears had a couple other standouts. Sophomore defender Armin Najafabadi had a big second half, especially in leading the clearing game, and starting goalie Johnny Tapia made 11 saves in his three quarters of action.
Bounds says Tapia, along with many of the team's players, have improved a lot as the season has gone on.
"Just like many of our guys, Johnny is in his first year picking up a stick and you can see that improvement every game from him and most of the team, really," he said. "As a coach, that's all you can ask … to get a little better every time you step on the field."
River Hill 13, Hammond 2
Goals: RH – Ferrer 2, Delore 2, Borkowski 2, Marciniak, Garrett Vinyard, Gabe Vinyard, Kim, Rose, Guindon, Cinotti; Ha – Walburger, Crute.
Assists: RH – Ferrer 3, Marciniak 2, Rose 2, Lawrence, Guindon, Delore.
Saves: RH – Uhl 2, Vinyard 1; Ha – Tapia 11, Reis 1.