May 18, 2022

Sophomore Cano Comes Through Down the Stretch As Hun Boys’ Lax Rallies Past HoVal to Win MCT Title

CAN DO: Hun School boys’ lacrosse player Danny Cano heads to goal last week in the Mercer County Tournament. Last Thursday, sophomore star Cano tallied five goals and two assists as top-seeded Hun defeated second-seeded and host Hopewell Valley 13-10 in the MCT title game to earn the championship in its debut appearance in the competition. Two days later, the Raiders fell short of a second title as they fell 16-8 at Lawrenceville in the state Prep A championship game and moved to 11-5. Hun will be playing in the Mid-Atlantic Prep Tournament from May 19-22. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

With the top-seeded Hun School boys’ lacrosse team trailing second-seeded and host Hopewell Valley 7-4 at halftime of the Mercer County Tournament final last Thursday evening, the message at the break was simple.

“It was just wake up,” said Hun sophomore star attacker Danny Cano, recalling the discussion at intermission.

“We practiced and played for this all year and then it came to the moment. We knew we had to step up.”

Cano took that message to heart, stepping up with four goals in the first 18 minutes of the second half as Hun reeled off an 8-3 run to seize momentum on the way to a 13-10 triumph.

“They were big goals, it all started with the team,” said Cano, who ended the night with five goals and two assists.

“I happened to be at the winning end of it. Luke Donahue in the cage stepped up a lot. My teammates at attack, Brendan Marino and Jack Moran, set me up a lot. It just worked at the end.”

In making its first-ever appearance in the MCT, Hun realized it was facing a formidable foe in HoVal.

“We knew we were going to play a very good team and a very well-coached team,” said Cano. “We knew what we were coming up against. We just knew we had to execute, especially against their zone.”

In coming back from the halftime deficit, Hun kept its cool down the stretch.

“We knew we just had to maintain composure because we knew there were going to be ups and downs through all of it,” said Cano. “It was just play together and trust your teammates because you know they are going to make the right play.”

Hun head coach Jim Stagnitta liked the way his players responded to the halftime talk.

“We had to play harder; we had to value our possessions a little more, we had too many turnovers,” said Stagnitta, whose team could not use its post-graduate players in the MCT. “We had to get on the ground balls and we made some adjustments to the riding game, things we had to do better and we did. We executed them. We didn’t turn the ball over and shot smarter. There were some things we talked about at half, and look, we had to take a little more pride in what we were doing.”

Stagnitta was proud of how Cano performed in the title game.

“Danny is terrific, he can do everything for us,” said Stagnitta, who also got three goals and an assist from Evan Wright in the win over HoVal. “He has got the highest lax IQ of any of our guys. He is a Division I player, he is talented kid.”

The Raiders did some good things on defense. “Ty Jameson is terrific and the freshman goalie Luke Donahue stepped up,” said Stagnitta.

“He had a big game and it is the first time he has to play in what is considered a big game. He did a good job, he is good. Collin Gillen made a difference. He doesn’t win face-offs, he wins ground balls. He made good decisions.”

With Hun wrapping up its season by playing in the Mid-Atlantic Prep Tournament from May 19-22, Stagnitta is looking for his players to keep up the good work.

“We made a big leap from last year and we are going to make another big leap,” said Stagnitta, whose team went for a second title two days later but fell short as it lost 16-8 to powerhouse Lawrenceville in the state Prep A final and moved to 11-5.

“We have continued to get better throughout the season. These guys are starting to understand what it takes to win and be successful consistently. I think the commitment now from the foundational guys is better. We count on Croddick (post-graduate starting goalie Ryan Croddick) a lot and without Croddick to count on, the other guys had to make plays all day and they did.”

Cano, for his part, was thrilled to see the Raiders win the county title.

“It is a pretty big deal, it is what we have worked for this whole year,” said Cano. “Since the PGs can’t play, it was a great opportunity for a lot of the younger has to step up and play in positions that they are not usually used to.”