Sep. 24—Hawken doesn't play many matches anymore on its pitch outside the football stadium.
But when the Hawks do, as they did for an afternoon encounter Sept. 24 with Benedictine, they regale the masses with the kind of futbol that graced that stage for many years gone by.
Gage Gretter netted a brace and also contributed a second-half assist to lead Hawken past the visiting Bengals, 4-1.
The Hawks (5-4-3) generated 13 shots on target and encouraging with its off-ball work in the natural flow of attack, particularly in the opening 40.
"I thought this was the best futbol we've played all season," Hawken coach Vlad Muresan said. "And we were coming off one of our worst games of the season. It happens sometimes, where you have those moments where you don't have the right consistency.
"Being on this field helps us compared to the stadium. It's a little bit wider. So I think against this opponent, we were able to move the ball and create some chances. So, yeah, we've got to keep on going from here."
Gretter opened his side's account in the 15th minute with a lovely left-footed effort.
Freshman Gabriel Parry pushed the advantage to 2-0 in the 26th, following up on an initial Evan McDaniel strike.
#NHsoccer Hawken 2-0
Gabriel Parry 26th min pic.twitter.com/NMKnaOcqlp
— Chris Lillstrung (@CLillstrungNH) September 24, 2022
Gretter collected Ashwin Balakrishnan service in the 44th and slotted another quality lefty strike to make it a 3-0 match.
"I thought we played really, really well," Gretter said. "We were really composed in the final third. It was just a great game overall for our offense and our defense. Our defense was really solid. But I think our offense really shined today."
The Bengals (2-6-2) showed some moxie throughout with a bit of counterattack promise. They prevented the shutout in the 53rd minute, when freshman Merit Peroune delivered a well-paced diagonal ball for Mathew Torres, who put away the finish to make it a 3-1 match.
Samuel Pan brought in the final margin for Hawken with a right-footed strike off Gretter service right at the hour mark.
The Hawks' strength of schedule has been something to date, with losses to Lake Catholic, CVCA, Toledo St. John's and, two days prior, to a state-ranked and high-flying fellow News-Herald coverage area side in Beachwood.
But the moments have been there, including giving Top of the Crop No. 1 side University all it could handle in a 2-2 draw.
"I'm proud of us," Gretter said. "With our record, we've played some really tough games. We've come away with some tough ties. We tied University, which was awesome. We had some tough losses to CVCA and Beachwood.
"But, I mean, we bounced back from that loss and beat Benedictine, 4-1, and they're a solid team."