After beating its past six opponents by almost 10 goals per game, the Hickman lacrosse team found itself in an unusually tight game Saturday at Cosmopolitan Park.
A second-half letdown sank the Kewpies. Vianney defeated Hickman 9-8.
The Kewpies’ attack again looked crisp at the start. Midfielder Mike Moesel had two assists, finding Kendall Eckles in transition and sophomore attacker J.J. Bennett on a scoop pass for early goals.
“I felt like we were a better team in the first half, for sure,” Hickman coach Jamie Mullen said. “I think our attack played really well. I really liked the way the attack moved the ball around, finding the open guy in the crease. ”
The teams looked evenly matched, exchanging goals in the first quarter.
Vianney attacker Sean Fete scored on a fast break. Hickman attacker Zach Nikin answered with a backside goal off an assist from Zach Graham.
The Kewpies led the Griffens 5-3 at halftime after three first-half goals from Nikin.
Hickman goalie Brad Thompson had a strong first half, making six saves.
Hickman put Kendall Gessling in goal for Thompson with in the second half, moving Thompson to midfield to fill in for senior Andy Mackley. Mackley missed the game because a dog bit him and he needed stitches on his chin.
Hickman (6-3) switched into a zone defense in the second half, a system unfamiliar to the Kewpies. The move proved costly, for Vianney (4-4) seized upon a lack of defensive pressure. The Griffens possessed the ball and created offensive opportunities.
The combination of defensive confusion and a cold goalie spelled trouble for Hickman.
Vianney went on a three-goal run to start the second half.
“The guys just stopped playing aggressively,” Mullen said. “They got a few on us. Our attitude became complacent at a certain point, and we just didn’t get it back in time.”
Fete sparked the Vianney run with a wraparound backside goal a minute into the third quarter.
Fete had an assist later in the quarter, when his steal started a three-on-one Vianney fast break. Fete drew Gessling to him and dumped the ball to midfielder Ben Majchrzak for an open goal.
Fete led Vianney with three goals.
Gessling said he struggled finding his rhythm in goal after sitting out the whole first half.
“If I’m not used to how the other team is shooting or how we are playing against them, it’s really tough for me to know what to expect,” Gessling said.