Hawks dominate play early, top Merritt Island 12-8


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Viera's Gavin Wessel (left) tries to move upfield against a Merritt Island defender during Friday night's district game. Wessel had a good night on faceoffs for Viera as the Hawks beat the Mustangs 12-8.

VIERA VOICE Carl Kotala

Beating the Merritt Island Mustangs is always a big deal for the Viera High boys lacrosse team.

But there was enough that happened during the Hawks’ 12-8 victory Friday night that showed Viera it still has plenty of work to do to keep getting better.

“I’d give us a C (grade),” Viera junior Nate DePlancke said. “We need to do a better job of possessing the ball, keeping it off the ground and making every possession worth a good shot. Don’t just take the first shot, take the best shot. We need to work on that more.

“I think our defense is doing pretty good. We’ve really got us a good goaltender this year (Austin Jensen). He’s stepped up really well. More than that, I think we need to be more disciplined and hustle around the field more.”

Jared Weiss scored five goals to lead the Hawks (4-1). DePlancke had three, Tracy Tucker was credited with two and Nick Rodriguez had one. Dallas Thomas got the game ball for his constant hustle.

Viera led 4-0 after the first period and had a 6-2 edge at halftime. The Hawks were cruising with a 10-3 lead with 9:24 remaining before getting outscored by the Mustangs 5-2 in the closing moments – including three Merritt Island goals in the final three minutes.

“(We were) good until the fourth quarter when we let up,” Viera coach Charlie Crawford said. “We were beating them the whole game, but in the fourth quarter, we became undisciplined. We’ll take a 12-8 win over them.”

Viera beat Merritt Island during the regular season last year only to lose to the Mustangs in the district championship game.

In fact, Merritt Island has topped the Hawks in each of the last two district tournament finals. Viera beat the Mustangs for the tournament title three years ago.

So, while Friday night’s win was big for the Hawks, they know they will likely see the Mustangs again come the district tournament finals.

But it’s a long road between now and then, especially with a brutal schedule that includes a road game at IMG Academy next month.

“This win feels good, but we’ve still got a gauntlet of a schedule to go through,” DePlancke said. “We’re not content with the performance tonight. We’re going to keep growing and keep getting better every day.”