The Viera High boys lacrosse team had plenty to be excited about Friday night.
Not only did the Hawks play one of their best games of the season, their 12-5 victory over the host Melbourne Central Catholic Hustlers carried some extra significance.
“This is the first time we’ve beaten MCC in history,” Viera coach Bo Bartlett said. “They haven’t played us in four years. This is a big shift for us. I have 14 freshmen and sophomores out of 22 players, so it’s a really young team.
“But they played well. I’m very pleased.”
Senior Tracy Tucker had a monster night for the Hawks (6-1), scoring Viera’s first two goals and finishing with five on the night. Senior Gavin Wessel also had a big game, scoring four goals, winning 16 of 21 faceoffs and playing most of the game as a two-way middie.
Jared Weiss, also a senior, had a goal and two assists. The Hawks also got goals from freshmen Jacob Sharrow and Kyle Fischer.
Defensively, Viera sophomore goalie Maguire Pedrick had nine saves on 24 shots as the Hawks did a good job of shutting down MCC’s attack, particularly in the first half.
“I think we played great,” Tucker said. “I think the whole team chemistry bonded. We’ve been waiting for this game for about five years now. It’s been a constant, uphill battle to play MCC.
“To see our guys come together, our freshmen and sophomores connect … everyone was getting goals. Everyone was getting assists. Everyone was getting groundballs. Gavin was winning all the faceoffs. It was good to see the whole team come together.”
Viera dominated the first half, scoring several goals in the game’s first few minutes on the way to taking a 7-0 lead at the break.
“To hold that team – they have three college commits, three very strong offensive players (Jeremy Goslant, Jake Rider and Tanner Penn) – to no goals at halftime was a huge victory,” Bartlett said. “We started to get a little tight in the second half. We were playing with a lead and we’ve got to learn how to do that better, but we went 5-5 in the second half.”
A lot of the credit for that first half shutout should go to Viera’s defense, which included junior Austin Smith; junior Jack Hathaway; senior Hunter Levi; sophomore Eli Menchetti and freshman Jacob Glick.
“We had a really good game plan going in and they shut down their offensive players,” Bartlett said. “They did exactly what we coached them to do.
“And Tracy Tucker had a game tonight. He had himself a game.”
Tucker, who now has 14 goals on the season, is one of five Hawks who have scored at least 11 goals through seven games. The others are Weiss (24), Wessel (14), Fischer (13) and sophomore Ethan Disciullo (11).
While MCC was able to mount a little bit of a second-half comeback after falling behind 8-0 Friday night, the Hawks never seemed in dangers. They have that early lead, which Tucker played a big role in securing, to thank for that.
“I think that was crucial for us,” Tucker said. “Getting three goals up early on, I think that set the tone really fast, let them know that we were here to play.
“We weren’t here to mess around.”