CARY — The Green Hope girls lacrosse team displayed its success not by winning 21 straight games, but by how it won them.
It was the efficient scoring attacks of Campbell Stanley and Mackenzie Koeller, the stopping ability of goalkeeper MaryCate Kapopoulos, the defensive prowess of Julie Hagan, the shifty speed of Katherine Smith and the blustery all-around game of wrecking ball Maggie Auslander. And when those parts worked together, a chemistry evolved that couldn’t be stopped by any team in the state.
Green Hope’s perfect year reached a perfect year with a 17-6 victory against Charlotte Catholic on Saturday. And the Falcons credited their irreproachable chemistry as to why the showdown between the state’s Nos. 1 and 2 ranked teams wasn’t nearly as close as the 9-8 regular-season score.
Green Hope coach Abby Mead said it was after big wins against Catholic and defending champ Apex that “We started realizing that as a team we’re much stronger than each individual and we started trusting each other a lot more.”
Mead, who just received her MBA from UNC-Chapel Hill last weekend, was coaching her final game for the Falcons as she will be moving to New York City at the end of the summer to work for J.P. Morgan. Her team showed it was well-prepared by jumping out to a 6-0 and closed out the period up 9-4.
“We have a tendency to come out big and we have strong leadership on our team. They were ready for this game,” Mead said. “They’ve wanted to be here for a long time and they wanted to make the most of that opportunity.”
Charlotte Catholic, the 2010 champs, came back in the opening minutes of the second half, cutting the lead to 9-6 with 16:51 to play.
But the Falcons showed their poise.
Koeller, Stanley and Hagan each scored within a 50-second period to put Green Hope back into a comfortable 12-6 lead with 14:09 remaining.
The running clock went into effect minutes at the 6:25 mark when Green Hope went up by 10 goals.
“Once they started creeping back up to close that gap, that’s when we put it all together,” said Stanley, who had a game-high six goals.
Auslander was named MVP for her five goals, one assist, numerous draw controls and disrupting play on defense. But she credited teammates for why they’re the 2012 champs.
“I feel the MVP is deserved for the whole entire team. We played together and not as one person,” Auslander said. “The chemistry went up to the next level. The chemistry wasn’t as good the first time we played them.”
It’s the school’s third state title after winning back-to-back in 2005 and 2006, but first since the NCHSAA sanctioned the sport in 2010. It is also Green Hope’s only undefeated season.
Hagan and Koeller had two goals apiece for the Falcons, while Smith and Lilly Stanley added one goal each. Kate Murphy had an assist.
Blake: 919-460-2606 or twitter.com/JMBpreps