Hornets open playoffs with victory over Kenwood
By Matt Le Cren
After enduring a difficult regular season, Hinsdale South enjoyed a game to remember on Saturday.
The 16th-seeded Hornets began the postseason with a bang by beating 19th-seed Kenwood Academy 7-0 in a Class 3A Hinsdale South Regional quarterfinal in Darien.
South (2-18-1) advanced to play No. 3-seed Benet Academy (15-3-1) in Tuesday’s regional semifinals.
“It’s definitely nice to see smiles on their faces,” South coach James VanDenburgh said. “At no time during this season did we have a halftime speech where it was, ‘hey, we’re up.’
“So it was a different tone but I definitely think it was business today because Tuesday is going to be hard.”
Indeed, the Hornets did little celebrating after defeating the Broncos (0-8) for the second straight year in their playoff opener. But that’s not to say they didn’t enjoy the victory.
Seniors Dean Serritella and Dylan Sarocco and junior Nathaniel Michaelis scored two goals each and sophomore Mike Noble added a goal and assist for the hosts, who erupted for five goals in a 10-minute span of the first half.
“[The season] has been a real tough one,” said Serritella, who tripled his goal total. “It was fun coming out and getting a win coming into the playoffs on a good note.”
South has struggled to find the back of the net all season but had no such trouble against Kenwood, scoring on five of its first eight shots.
Michaelis opened the scoring at the 35:14 mark and Serritella followed with his first goal three minutes later.
The Hornets then put the game out of reach by scoring three times in 75 seconds, with Noble and Sarocco tallying 16 seconds apart before Serritella made it 5-0 with 25:45 remaining in the opening period.
“We knew it was not going to be a [Hinsdale] Central game or one of those top teams but we went into it like always, wanting to score and wanting to get as many goals as we can,” Serritella said. “But [we didn’t expect to score] that fast.”
The fast start helped the Hornets forget about their regular season, at least for a while.
“We had a bad season so this was like a new start,” said Sarocco, who notched the first two-goal game of his career. “So we started off good, started off fresh, which is what we were talking about.”
Though the outcome was never in doubt, VanDenburgh was not completely satisfied with his team’s performance, noting the level of play went down and the hosts went scoreless for the rest of the half.
Michaelis and Sarocco scored early in the second half off assists from Marko Ristic and Alec Raatz to shorten the game by 15 minutes.
“We have no reason to celebrate,” VanDenburgh said. “[The Hornets] did a good job of jumping on it quickly, but then I thought our intensity and our level of play kind of dwindled a little bit right after we started to make some subs.
“So we addressed that maintaining that high level of competition that we should be expecting, not playing down to anyone’s level but our own. That kind of speaks volumes to our problems this season where we’ve really struggled to score.
“You’ve got to score to win and we did that during the first 10-15 minutes of the game, but I think it was just very symbolic of our season when some other guys got in there and the connections were lost, our intensity wasn’t there.”
The Hornets echoed that assessment.
“Overall it was a good game,” Serritella said. “We played a lot of through balls, which I like. I’d say we could have played a little bit more smarter, calmer, but overall it was good.”
The Hornets made sure everyone got in on the act as all the reserves saw action, including J-V call-ups Chris Brandeis, Jeremy Manasek, Zach Todden, Jacko Kaminski and Alec Carpenter.
Neither starting goalie Jose Moreno or Carpenter, who relieved him for the final 13 minutes, had to make a save in the contest.
“[The difference today was] just the intensity,” Sarocco aid. “We were all out there to win and go on to the next round. I think that’s what got us going.”
The Hornets know they will be big underdogs against Benet, which is enjoying one of its finest seasons, but are up for the challenge.
“We’re going to come out really intense, really physical, just high intensity,” Serritella said. “I’m looking forward to it.”