The weather was picture perfect - 70 degrees, sunny, a slight breeze, and dry. There were people all over the place. On the baseball field, the Hawks were doing battle with Cranston West (a game they won, 8-0); on the field at Hayden Stadium, our guys were preparing for one of the biggest - if not the biggest - games of their season. One of the top teams in the state, the Barrington Eagles, was in town at a time when the young Hawks are truly beginning to gel. This would, indeed, be a chance for the Hawks and for Coach Murray to measure their progress, especially since the last time they faced the Eagles here at Hendricken, the result was a 16-4 beating by the Eagles that no doubt left a lasting impression on the entire Hendricken team.
Yesterday was also the annual game when we as a community commemorate the memory of Eric Valdepenas, a 2003 Hawk graduate who selflessly put his engineering aspirations on hold and served his country by deploying to Iraq with his fellow Marines. Tragically, he lost his life in 2006 while on routine maneuvers with his unit. Eric was also one of the great Hawks' lacrosse players, so each year the lacrosse program and the school honor his sacrifice.
Eric must have been with his Hawks' teammates yesterday and undoubtedly smiled as he watched our guys post their biggest win of the year, an 11-9 win over the Eagles, a win that ups their record to 5-4 and continues their momentum as the playoffs approach.
Of course, The Network was there with beginning-to-end coverage, Cam Brennan providing first-rate play-by-play and Max Zweiner doing the same with analysis. Fans can still watch the entire game in the first Ustream viewer at the top of the page.
The most important takeaways from yesterday's contest are first and most obviously, the Hawks did, for the most part, dominate the game from start to finish. They now no doubt feel that they can stand toe-to-toe with the Eagles over the course of an entire 48-minute game.
Secondly, the most important time in the game came about halfway through the second quarter, when the Hawks were sporting a 5-1 lead. Barrington managed to score two goals within about 30 seconds, and suddenly it appeared that the Eagles had found themselves and were about to force their will on the Hawks and the game. Our guys responded with two goals of their own, however, taking a 7-3 lead and sending a clear message to other birds that they were, in fact, beginning to gel as a unit and were now for real.
With one league game remaining - a game that will be broadcast live tomorrow night right here on The Network - we're about to find out just how ready for prime time this edition of the lacrosse Hawks truly is.
We'll have Hawks baseball tonight at 6pm, live from Memorial Park in Johnston, where the 15-1 Hawks will take on the Panthers.