Hawks fall to Redwings in initial BOTW match
By Matt Le Cren
Bartlett is playing in the prestigious Best of the West Tournament for the first time.
Hawks coach Ben Beary believes facing top competition is the best way to get better and he figured the Best of the West would give the Hawks a stiff challenge.
He was right about that.
Benet gave Bartlett a rude welcome to the tournament, rolling to a 5-1 victory Tuesday night at Naperville North as Kyle Kenagy scored a career-high four goals and Michael Rindler added a goal and an assist.
“I couldn’t be happier about the tournament we’re in because you learn about your team after a loss like this and if you want to be down on yourself, you’re going to be really disappointed on Thursday when your bounce back game is against Naperville North,” Beary said.
“So this is an opportunity for them to mature real quickly and learn that through this adversity you become better, because you’re forced to.
“You get to see what kind of character is on your team, you get to see what kind of skill you’re capable of because we still haven’t reached our ceiling. We still have growth that can happen.
“You have to take positives out of a game like this and the positive is we get an opportunity to learn. We saw how good it can be and we’re going to have to get better if we’re going to match it.”
It was apparent early on that Bartlett would be unable to match Benet’s talent, which quickly established the Redwings’ superiority.
Kenagy scored on a header off a cross from Rindler just 2:30 into the contest and the dynamic duo was just getting started.
Rindler made it 2-0 when he scored on a partial breakaway at the 22:53 mark of the first half and though he did not return after injuring his shoulder on the play, the Redwings (2-1) were off to the races.
Kenagy scored twice on breakaways on passes from senior midfielder Paddy Lawler, who is quickly learning how to find the speedy striker.
“As opposed to the other games, me and Kyle worked on finding that connection between the right mid and cutting across,” Lawler said. “We really worked on that diagonal ball. It’s all about penetration.
“That’s our offense. I found him; he saw me. It was really just a mental connection. We both play in the system and we know our roles and that’s what led us to victory.”
Kenagy, who notched his first career hat trick in a 7-1 win over Downers Grove North in the season opener, has scored in all three games so far and now has eight goals and two assists.
Rindler, who is day-to-day, has added three goals and five assists while connecting well with Lawler and Sam Knapke.
“It’s nice to develop our trust in them, so I can play that through ball and I know that [Kenagy] will get on it so I can work off it,” Lawler said. “It’s a huge weapon for our team and it’s really going to help us go far this year. We’re going to be a goal-scoring machine.”
That is especially true if teams try to play their back line far from the net. Bartlett (0-2-1) tried to and was repeatedly torched by the speed of the Benet forwards.
“He’s lightning,” Benet coach Sean Wesley said of Kenagy. “Obviously [with] him and Rindler it’s a lot of speed, it’s a lot for a team to handle and they tried to play a very high line. I thought we figured it out quickly, to Sam Knapke’s credit, to Paddy Lawler’s credit.
“They figured the balls that were going to work as opposed to the balls that were not going to work and we got behind them quite a bit and made it very dangerous.”
Bartlett, which managed only two shots, got on the board with 5:42 to go in the opening half when Juan Garcia fed A.J. Santori for a long-range goal to cut the deficit to 3-1.
But Kenagy answered midway through the second half by scoring twice in a 1:28 span. The first goal came on his second breakaway and the last on his second header of the night, which came off a long throw-in from Bobby Smith.
“I thought both teams played well,” Kenagy said. “I think they stepped really high and that played to our advantages, but after our loss to Waubonsie I think our midfield started to step it up.
“[Scoring four times] is really fun but every goal has an assist, so I just can’t take all the credit. Paddy gave me two assists, Bobby gave me an assist and Rindler gave me an assist. I hope we can keep it up against Neuqua and Naperville North.”
The offensive outburst was particularly impressive considering defense is considered to be Bartlett’s strong suit this season, as most of the defense returns.
“We have not been scored on like that in two seasons so that’s a credit to them,” Beary said. “This is eye-opening for [the Hawks], but Joey Butler and Adam Jones, two seniors, are two very smart individuals and you can see from half one to half two Joey making his own personal adjustments. He’s learning.
“He’s going to continue to get better all season and you can rely on him to do that. He’s a good example of the type of player who takes the adversity from this type of game and learns from it. It’s a hard lesson to learn because it’s a great shock to your ego but you’ve got to learn from it.”