Hunter College HS upsets Midwood in quarters
When Hunter College HS first met Midwood, the Hawks suffered a one-goal loss, the second of four consecutive defeats to open the season, its first in the PSAL Championship division.
“It was penalty after penalty,” Hunter coach Johnson Wong said. “We were up three goals and we ended up losing the game by one.”
Wong thought it was time for a team meeting and his message was summed up in 10 simple letters.
The Hawks didn’t show any then, but they did Tuesday in a 12-6 win over Midwood in the opening round of the PSAL Championship division playoffs at Aviator Sports Complex in Brooklyn.
Fifth-seeded Hunter advances to the semifinals to meet top-seeded Tottenville Thursday in Huguenot. No. 2 New Dorp is home for third-seeded Cardozo in the other semifinal.
The winners advance to the PSAL final Sunday at 8 p.m. back at Aviator.
While Hunter (5-8) goes into Thursday’s semifinal as underdogs, it does already have a win against the Pirates – 8-7 on April 18 – under its belt. It was Tottenville’s lone league loss.
“For me, I’m a little bias, but I felt my guys could play with the best and we proved we could play with the best because we beat the best team in the league,” Wong said. “I think we’re ready. We’re not nervous about anyone. Bring it on the field and let’s prove what we can do.”
Wong points to that win against the Pirates as the turning point of the season. Tottenville won the first meeting, 16-4, on March 19 in Huguenot.
“We knew we could play, we just didn’t put all the pieces together,” he said. “That Tottenville game solidified that.”
Even though Hunter dropped both regular season meetings against Midwood (6-7), junior Oliver Yu drew confidence from a similar situation last year when the Hawks lost twice to Lehman during the regular season, but won in the playoffs en route to the Bowl division title.
“The playoffs are a whole new ballgame,” Yu said. “We executed and that was the most important thing because we’re all on the same page. Once we’re on the same page, we could play with anybody.”
The Hawks proved that Tuesday, racing out to a 4-0 lead on first-quarter goals by Nick Mietkowski, Max Baren and two by Yu. Hunter extended its lead to 6-1 on a sweet spin-o-rama from Mietkowski.
“We had to come out here guns blazing and I think that’s what really helped us,” Yu said. “We had the momentum and kept it going throughout the game. Even when times got tough, we stayed together and still had that lead to help us keep moving forward.”
Midwood, though, raced back and, on back-to-back goals by Nick Dopyera, and cut its deficit to 7-4 at halftime.
The Hornets have made a habit of falling behind in the first half only to rally late during the regular season, but Wong composed his team during the break.
“I just had to remind them that you guys have to lead, you guys have control,” he said. “Maintain that control and composure and they did.”
Yu added his third with four minutes left in the third, Baren struck twice and Eric Lippin and Mietkowski also scored as Hunter extended its lead to 12-4 with 5:37 left.
While Midwood scored twice late on goals by Desean Abraham and Paul Dopyera, Hunter went four corners and controlled possession for the later portion of the fourth quarter to clinch the impressive victory.
“The game plan was to possess the ball, keep it on offense because we knew we could work it around and finish around the goal,” Yu said.
Hunter has made tremendous strides during the regular season and is excited about the ultimate test Thursday in Huguenot.
“I like our chances,” Wong said. “I’m confident.”
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