BROCKTON — Most soccer coaches don’t thoughts a little bit adversity, however even this was pushing it for Xaverian in Friday night time’s recreation with Needham.
The Hawks misplaced two of their greatest offensive gamers to harm within the first half, however Xaverian coach Al Fornaro will inform you his staff is nothing if not resilient.
Behind monster performances from quarterback Henry Hasselbeck and working again Mike O’Connor, Xaverian earned a hard-fought 20-17 win in a Div. 1 state semifinal.
The Hawks (9-2) punch a ticket to play St. John’s Prep within the remaining, preceded by a recreation with the Prep on Thanksgiving.
Star working again Denzil Pierre and standout receiver Jonathan Monteiro left the sport with accidents, however the Hawks persevered.
“Absolutely fantastic,” Fornaro mentioned of his staff’s efficiency. “I am so proud. I don’t think I’ve been prouder of a team, either as an assistant, or a head coach, ever. Usually, when you lose a star player, right, you can feel the energy in the sidelines (go out). Not here at all. We had to play three games this year without Denzil, and (Needham is) a very good football team, and we’re very fortunate to come out of here with a win. We were able to do what we wanted to do: control the ball, pick up first downs when we needed to. Secure the victory.”
“It’s just straight business,” O’Connor mentioned. “Denzil is a hell of a player, but, when he went down, we knew it was just next guy up. We had a lot of running backs get reps in practice. I trusted my line, so there was no hesitation at all, no doubt in my mind that we could get this done.”
O’Connor rushed for 187 yards on 26 carries. Hasselbeck accomplished 8 of 12 passes for 77 yards and two touchdowns. He additionally rushed for 102 yards on 9 carries.
But Needham was a worthy opponent and matched Xaverian’s physicality in a manner that many groups can. Xaverian held a 13-10 lead at halftime, then elevated it to 20-10 late within the third quarter when Hasselbeck hit William Benting for a 4-yard landing.
The Rockets answered, although, with a drive that largely moved ahead on the bottom. The 12-play march featured loads of Aidan Williams (76 yards on 11 carries), and ended when Griffin Carr hit Spencer Chapman on a 13-yard landing. Chapman made a pleasant catch behind the top zone.
That introduced Needham to inside 20-17, however the Rockets didn’t contact the ball once more. Xaverian ran the ball 9 straight instances, with O’Connor and Hasselbeck doing a lot of the work, and the Hawks closed it out within the victory formation.
“I love RPOs,” Fornaro mentioned. “Run power often, and run people over.”
Needham has the same philosophy, and confirmed from the beginning it might not be intimidated. After Xaverian took a 3-0 lead on a Luke Bell 39-yard discipline purpose, Needham’s Tate Hoffmeister scored a 13-yard landing to offer the Rockets a 7-3 lead.
Xaverian grabbed the lead again when Hasselbeck hit Caleb Brown on a 13-yard landing within the second quarter.
Needham’s Dante Varano booted a 35-yard discipline purpose to tie it at 10, however the Hawks grabbed the lead once more when Bell kicked a 34-yard discipline purpose as time expired within the second quarter.
All that’s left for Xaverian is 2 video games with its largest rival.
“I’m just happy that we get to go out on Sunday and have a meaningful practice for a Catholic Conference championship game,” Fornaro mentioned. “And then we’ll go on from there.”