CHAPEL HILL — With only a few days left before the state playoffs, the Triangle’s top four ranked girls’ lacrosse teams have completed their own round-robin of sorts.
The last head-to-head match-up was Thursday, when News & Observer No. 1 East Chapel Hill played host to No. 3 Cardinal Gibbons.
It meant that the Nos. 1-4 teams in the Triangle had all played each other a total of 14 times.
And with the regular-season dust settling and the postseason looming, East Chapel Hill appears to have the edge. The Wildcats completed a sweep of the other three top teams with a 13-10 victory against Gibbons on Thursday.
“For both of our teams, we were happy that we scheduled these games at the end of the year to get that higher level of play going into the playoffs,” said fourth-year East coach Michelle Michaels.
Looking forward: East, which has locked up the Conference 4 title, Conference 3-leading Gibbons and Conference 2 rivals Apex and Green Hope knew they’d all be likely to see each other in May.
So they scheduled appropriately.
“Going into playoffs, you want to make sure you are playing competitive games and gearing up for those (top) teams,” said Gibbons first-year coach Taylor Chumney. “You want to practice competing at a high level to prepare.”
Chumney was an assistant at East last season.
Gibbons (13-2) and East (11-2) entered the game ranked in the top five in the state.
What worked: In the first half, Gibbons executed perfectly in the offensive zone. Five of the Crusaders’ six first-half goals came off assists, prompting East to change its individual defensive assignments in the second half.
Wildcats goalie Riley Johnson was credited with 15 saves.
Needs improvement: East was able to pressure Gibbons into turnovers in the second half. Chumney wasn’t pleased with the Crusaders’ transition game.
“East did a really good job pressuring us in transition and forcing us to make quick decisions,” Chumney said. “Unfortunately, we didn’t do really well in transition today and it hurt us.”
Putting up numbers: North Carolina recruit Sydney Holman had a game-high seven goals for East, while Marrissa Creatore (two), Allison Morsberger (two), Lena Johnson (one) and Cassie Watters (one) also got in the scoring mix.
Gibbons was led by freshman Erica Skowron (four), Claire Nelson (three), Maryland recruit Shelby Scanlin (two) and Rebecca Wiley (one).
History shows: Holman surpassed the 90-goal mark for the season and ended the game with 92. Only three players have more in the three previous seasons where the NCHSAA sanctioned lacrosse, and one of them is Holman (107 last year).
“It’s very humbling and exciting,” Holman said. “I couldn’t do it without the help of my teammates.”
Highlight reel: It’s hard to draw up a buzzer-beater in lacrosse, but East did just that.
A Gibbons turnover in their own zone gave the Wildcats a dead-ball possession with 2.5 seconds left in the first half. It was only enough time for a quick pass and shot, and Maddie Fields found Holman to tie the game at six.
“That’s what hustling leads to,” Holman said. “It really did lead to a lot of momentum going into the second half.”
Blake: 919-460-2606; On Twitter: @JMBpreps