Even though Brendan Black scored two goals as the Hun School boys’ lacrosse team topped visiting Peddie 13-5 last Monday in the state Prep A semis, the junior star prefers seeing others take care of the finishing duties.
“I just try to quarterback the offense as much as I can and get the other guys good looks because they can stick them in, that’s for sure,” said attacker Black, who had seven assists in the victory, which improved the Raiders to 10-4 and earned them a date with perennial state champion Lawrenceville in the Prep A final. “I just roll with whatever comes.”
One of Black’s favorite targets is his younger brother, sophomore midfielder Owen Black, who tallied two goals for second-seeded Hun in the victory over No. 3 Peddie.
“We do have a connection on the field, I love playing that wing with him,” said Black, who is committed to join the Villanova University men’s lacrosse program along with his brother.
“I know where he is going to be and he knows where I am going to be. We have been playing together forever. We are going to keep playing together for years to come.”
Having defeated Peddie 10-5 in a regular season contest on April 25, Black knew that the Falcons presented a challenge in the tournament rematch.
“They are a great team and we knew they were a threat; they have a really good face-off guy, a good goalie, and good attackmen so they have the formula to win,” said Black.
“We knew that they were going to be a threat. We were nervous but I think we handled them well. We knew if we jumped on them early we would be able to have them. We had great face-off play from Alex Semler so that really helped us get it going offensively.”
Things have been going very well for the Raiders as they have won seven straight games and 10 of their last 11.
“We knew from the start of the year that we were going to have some rough games off the bat but that is always what we want,” said Black.
“Our motto is that it is not about winning at the beginning of the season, it is about May. I feel like now we are really starting to click as a team and it is May 5 and we are getting going now.”
Black credits Hun’s defensive unit with playing a critical role in getting the team going.
“Our defense led by Jim Jannicelli, Cam Dudeck, Chase Goulburn, and Chris Fake is a sound defense,” said Black.
“Our longstick midfielder Tucker Stevenson and our defensive middies, Mike McMenamin and Matt Bruno, don’t get a lot of credit, but they are really a sound group of guys. They protect Jon and Jon makes great saves. The defense is the backbone of our team and they always have been. Without our defense, we wouldn’t be getting the ball on offense.”
In the view of Hun head coach MV Whitlow, the Black brothers also give the team some backbone.
“Brendan is a team captain and is the older brother,” said Whitlow. “Owen brings an on the field leadership with his poise and his lacrosse IQ.”
Sophomore Semler gave the Raiders some intelligent play in the middle of the field.
“I think the biggest difference in the game was Alex Semler at the face-off X because Nick Donahue is one great player and a great face-off guy. We had a face-off-enhanced possession disadvantage in the last game and Alex did a good job at the X so we weren’t at such a possession deficit.”
Once Hun got the ball, juniors Cole West and Drake Roy capitalized with West tallying two goals and four assists and Roy contributing a game-high four goals.
“Cole is a very dynamic player,” said Whitlow. “He is very quick and he has great vision, that’s a good combination. He feeds off other people; he likes to get the ball distributed. He finishes his own looks but he does like to look for his teammates so that brings everybody together. Drake is a great finisher and he is showing great leadership in his shooting touch.”
In Whitlow’s view, veteran leadership has played a key role in Hun’s hot streak.
“We just promoted four guys to assistant captain, who are all seniors in Matt Bruno, Mike McKeon, Chase Goulburn, and Corey Reynolds,” said Whitlow.
“We are getting good leadership from our senior class and as your seniors go is how your team is going to go. It is a good group of guys, it is a tight group of guys.”
Whitlow likes the way Hun has tightened up things at both ends of the field. “It has always been our goal to play our best lacrosse in May,” asserted Whitlow.
“We have been working real hard on a lot of different fundamentals and those things have come to fruition now and we are starting to play our best lacrosse right now.”
Hun will need to play its best lacrosse in order to topple top-seeded Lawrenceville, which has won 13 straight Prep A titles.
“We were always going to define success on our own terms and we are thankful to be able to play in a championship game,” said Whitlow, noting that a date for the title contest is to be determined after both teams wrap up play in the upcoming Inter Ac tourney.
“We have a lot of respect for the Lawrenceville program and the Lawrenceville players. It sets up to be a nice championship game.”
Black, for his part, believes that the Raiders have the game to hang with the Big Red.
“We are really looking forward to it, they are a great, great team with great history,” said Black.
“We know it is going to be a great game and we want to get after it. We feel we are really clicking at the right time. Hopefully, we will keep going until the end.”