With Junior Star Hansen Rising to the Occasion Hun Boys’ Lax Wins 2nd Straight Prep A Crown
JUMPING FOR JOY: Hun School boys’ lacrosse players Grant Hansen, right, and Jake Wright celebrate a goal last Monday as top-seeded Hun defeated second-seeded Lawrenceville 10-7 in the state Prep A championship game.Junior midfielder Hansen tallied three goals and two assists in the win while Wright chipped in two as the Raiders won their second second straight Prep A crown and improved to 10-2. Hun plays at the Hill School (Pa.) on May 10 and then hosts Bergen Catholic on May 13 before competing in the National Prep Championships. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)
By Bill Alden
When the Hun School boys’ lacrosse team dug an an early 3-1 hole against Lawrenceville in the state Prep A championship game last Monday, the squad’s veterans took control.
“Coach [MV Whitlow] stepped back and said ‘leaders this is up to you,’” said Hun junior midfielder Grant Hansen.
“We looked at our captains, Jack [Ruddy] and Devon [Cowan], and they said let’s play. This is for each other, the work we do in the practice, the shots we take and how hard we work on the field. It is for each other. We looked left and right and we got the courage and strength to just go out there and play harder.”
Hansen buried a shot to narrow the gap to 3-2 in the last minute of the first quarter to help turn the tide of the contest as the Raiders built a 5-4 lead at halftime.
“Once we saw we had the confidence and the ability to score, it just fell in line,” said Hansen.
“I think that resonated with the rest of our team and as a team, we rose to the occasion.”
After Lawrenceville tied the game at 6-6 in the third quarter, Hun rose to the occasion, closing out the contest on a 4-1 run to prevail 10-7 and earn its second straight Prep A crown.
In reflecting on the team’s play down the stretch, Hansen said it was a matter of focus.
“It was just the eyes on the prize,” said Hansen. “We can’t get distracted, we can’t focus on who the opponent is. I give credit to Lawrenceville, they are a very good team and they are very well coached. But for our team, it is for each other, we are brothers.”
With 4:05 left in the game, Hansen enjoyed a very good moment as he scored the 10th and final goal of the contest for Hun, putting an exclamation point in the victory as the Raiders improved to 10-2.
“That put a smile on my face, it was a little icing on the cake,” recalled Hansen, who ended with with three goals and two assists in the triumph.“I looked up at the scoreboard and said this is us, this is our team. We won.”
Earning a second straight Prep A title left the Raiders smiling and celebrating as they hugged and posed for pictures long after the final whistle.
“It means so much for us, these seniors have worked so hard and we wanted to make it about them this year,” added Hansen.
“We won last year and we said if we could send these seniors out with a win, that is all the season is about.”
In Hansen’s view, the 2019 season has been particularly special because of the unity the squad has developed,
“It is brotherhood; over the years we have had some strong teams with strong bonds,” said Hansen.
“This team had some talent, but what brought that talent together was that we are all brothers. Everything we do is together; we eat, breathe, and drink all together. Everything is for each other.”
Hun head coach MV Whitlow wasn’t surprised by the resilience his group displayed in overcoming the early deficit.
“We were confident in the guys and the game plan,” said Whitlow.“We made a couple of halftime adjustments that we anticipated and with the senior leadership we have with our captains Devon Cowan and Jack Ruddy, we were confident that they were going to execute those adjustments. They’ve come a long way and their lacrosse IQs are high. They are just young student athletes of great character.”
Whitlow credits Hansen with bringing both smarts and character to the field for the Raiders.
“Grant is just a special player,” said Whitlow of Hansen, who has committed to attend Princeton and play for its men’s lacrosse program.
“He’s going to go on and play at the next level. He’ll be just as talented there as he is here. And he’s matured. The whole group has matured. This is the same group that we lost with two years ago. Now they are juniors and seniors and you are seeing the results with back-to-back championships.”
Topping rival Lawrenceville for a second straight year in the Prep A final is sweet for Whitlow and his players.
“I am proud of the guys; I told them before the game that it is their championship,” added Whitlow.
“It belongs to them. It’s this senior classes’ championship. I had alums reach out to me today and say good luck in the game. And that means a lot. Part of that is the opponent. It is a worthy opponent. Lawrenceville has great players and we respect them a great deal. It makes winning the championship that much better.”
With Hun playing at the Hill School (Pa.) on May 10 and then hosting Bergen Catholic on May 13 before competing in the National Prep Championships, Whitlow believes that Hun will keep playing with pride.
“These guys like being together,” said Whitlow. “This is a big championship. But this group is pretty galvanized and they are pretty together. So we’ll hit the reset button and get ready for that. We still have two regular season games left.”
Hansen, for his part, is looking forward to seeing what the Hun group can do over the final two weeks of the season.
“This is definitely a confidence builder for sure,” said Hansen. “It is an example for our team and for ourselves that we can beat anybody and we can play with anybody as long as we are playing for each other.”