By Mike Dougherty
ARMONK — The first thing Robbie Hammerman needed to do after being asked to play attack was take a deep breath.
Then he needed to borrow a stick.
Hammerman is normally a goalie, but with five regulars scratched from the lineup, Byram Hills coach Jeff Fritz had to do some radical mixing and matching before the opening faceoff Tuesday against Pleasantville. It took some time before the Bobcats looked comfortable, but they closed like a veteran team and left with a resounding 12-7 win.
“I was a little shocked at first to be honest,” said Hammerman, who’s never played up front in a game. “Once the game started, I settled in. I messed up a couple of times at first, but then I just started to play the game like I know how.”
Hammerman did more than lend a hand, finishing with two goals and one assist.
“It’s awesome how versatile Robbie is,” said Tyler Aronne, who scored five goals to lead Byram Hills (3-0). “Our entire team is the same way. We have a lot of players capable of succeeding at another position.”
Fritz now has another decision to make.
The move was possible because former backup goalie Matt Mendelsohn rejoined Byram Hills this spring after taking a year off. He did just fine, making 13 saves.
It was a close game until the Panthers (3-1) began to let Aronne run wild.
He scored four minutes into the second half to break a 4-4 tie. Brendan Halloran came up with a quick answer, then Aronne scored three more to give the Bobcats an 8-5 cushion with four minutes to go in the third quarter.
“They weren’t going to double me, so I was just going to keep taking the ball in every time,” Aronne said. “They just didn’t adjust so I took advantage of them.”
Pleasantville never got any momentum back.
“That really was costly,” Panthers coach Chris Kear said. “That was pretty much the turning point. We tried putting our best pole on him. That didn’t work. We didn’t slide early enough.”
Halloran finally ended the run when he converted with a little help from Greg Drillock, making it 8-6 heading into the fourth quarter. Pleasantville had a multitude of man-up chances and simply did not take advantage.
“I think their pressure really got to us,” Halloran said. “We didn’t handle it well.”
There was a moment of tension when Baylor Rosenbaum got the Panthers within a goal early in the fourth quarter, but guess who saved the day? Hammerman scored with 9:07 to play and put Byram Hills in front 9-7.
“I got the ball down at X and saw a short stick was on me,” he said. “They didn’t have backup so I took it to the cage, rolled back and put the ball in the net.”
Austin Raichelson scored two goals in the final minutes against the weary Pleasantville defense, and Nick Vettoretti, who loaned his backup stick to Hammerman, got loose for another to remove any doubts.
So now what?
“That’s up to the coaches to decide,” Hammerman said. “Whatever position they want to put me at, I’ll play it.”