HENDERSONVILLE The annual meeting between the Pope John Paul II High and Hendersonville Spartans boys lacrosse teams is a cordial affair … once the final whistle is blown.
However, in the 48 minutes between handshakes, the host Knights refused to play nice with their neighbors, beginning with a goal just 19 seconds into Wednesday evening’s 17-4 victory over the Spartans at the Jim Carell Athletic Complex.
Junior attacker Caleb Elerick provided the quick strike to jump-start the Knight offense. PJP II (3-5) raced out to a 7-0 lead in the opening quarter.
“Our coaches were saying all week that we just needed to come out and put them away,” PJP II senior attacker Chris Byrne said. “After we got crushed by (Memphis University School in a 19-3 loss) last week, we just needed to bounce back.”
Both Byrne and Elerick scored twice in the opening period, and they combined for seven goals, with Elerick scoring four and Byrne collecting three.
“It was just a product of the middies (midfielders) getting the ball down the field and getting good runs on the goalie,” Byrne said. “They were just creating for me, Caleb and Jackson (Sterrett).”
Sterrett – a sophomore – along with junior David Thomas and senior Riley Southard, all found the net in the first quarter.
“We tried to get it in our players’ heads before the game that this will be a tough game,” Spartan head coach Marc Eisenhauer said. “You can’t hang your head, and our players seemed to do that a little bit.”
The Knights added seven more goals in the second quarter, with seniors Nic Cruz and Jon Knox – along with sophomore Nolan Underhill – joining the list of goal-scorers. Byrne, Sterrett, Elerick and Thomas also added goals in the second period.
Hendersonville (4-2) broke through as senior Miles Mitchell scored the first of his three goals with 7:19 left in the third quarter.
“It’s great to see him produce,” Eisenhauer said. “He seemed to excel (at forward).”
Senior Garrett Dye scored the other Spartan goal while Hendersonville was a man up due to a penalty midway through the fourth quarter.
Junior Jack Schumacher scored the final PJP II goal with 1:56 remaining.
The Spartans draw players from six Sumner County schools – Beech, Gallatin, Hendersonville, Hendersonville Christian Academy, Station Camp and White House – in addition to Wilson Central, Springfield and Madison Academy. Many of the PJP II players played with various Spartans in middle school.
“It’s really unique to see it,” Eisenhauer said. “They’re playing hard, whistle to whistle, and you almost forget that they’re friends. But at the end of the game, they’re all friends again. That’s the kind of game lacrosse is. It’s very competitive, but it’s all about tradition and friendship.”
Byrne added, “We know all those guys … they know us. We’re all friends.”
In a scheduling oddity, the Knights have two more home matches remaining before playing their final seven contests on the road.
“The first half of the season’s been all home matches,” Byrne said. “It’s weird, having senior night in early April.”
Reach Chris Brooks at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 615-575-7118. Follow him on Twitter @CB_SumnerSports.