The Corning Hawks boys lacrosse team is heading into the Section IV, Class A finals on a tear.
After dropping their first game of the season to Geneva, 10-9 in overtime, the Hawks have ripped off 15 straight wins and sit as the top seed in Class A.
Hawks head coach Chris Hogue didn’t have a magic speech or saying to start the run, but reassured his players that they’d be just fine after falling to a quality Geneva squad.
“[I said], 'We knew this was going to be a tough game -- our schedule is tough -- but our goal is to be the best at the end of the season,'” said Chris Hogue. “Our goal was to keep working on things that were going to get us to where we are now.”
Members of the team knew that after the sectional final game in 2018 against Ithaca, a 10-9 loss in overtime, and the first game of the 2019 season, the emotion of not coming out on top was something they did not want to experience again.
“We knew that we had to bottle that feeling up and have that for the rest of the season,” Corning senior attacker Collin Neally said. “We kept it and it fueled us and it made us more hungry to come out and win.”
During the 15-game winning streak, the longest in Hogue’s tenure as Hawks head coach, Corning secured two wins against its sectional finals opponent, the Ithaca Little Red.
The Hawks topped the Little Red 10-4 at home and turned a 3-3 game at halftime into an 11-3 victory in Ithaca.
Corning securing the No. 1 seed has its perks, earning the Hawks a home game against the Little Red.
“It’s huge, it’s much better to play here at home in front of a huge crowd,” senior attacker Brendyn Hogue said. “To play in front of our parents and friends and to hear them yell when we score goals is awesome and really exciting.”
Seniors on the Hawks are eager to face Ithaca in a win-or-go-home situation after the Little Red has knocked them out the past two sectional finals.
“Since I’ve been on varsity, we’ve lost to them twice,” said senior midfielder Nik Nickerson. “So as a senior, I really want to beat them, not having gone any farther than sectionals. Winning this game and going as far as we can and just getting past this one point that I haven’t gotten to would mean a lot to me and to all the other seniors.”
Despite the two regular season victories against the Little Red this season, beating a team three times in a season is a daunting task in any sport.
“We’re going to see different things from Ithaca, they always bring their best game,” said Chris Hogue. “It’s going to be a battle. We’re going to have to play well offensively, move the ball, do a good job of shot placement -- and defensively, we’re going to have to continue to do what we’ve done against them.”
The Hawks know what’s at stake this postseason, even after a historic regular season.
“The regular season we had a lot of success, but now, like [assistant] coach [Joe] Bacalles always says, ‘We’re mortal now,’" said Nickerson. "We have to win or we’re done."
Corning begins its sectional run Thursday at 7:30 p.m. at home.