WILMINGTON — Nothing but the scenery of Wilmington was pretty when Middle Creek visited Hoggard Friday night in the first round of the boys’ lacrosse playoffs.
But the Mustangs weren’t penalized for a low-scoring game where defensive slides became more important and getting a clean look at goal became difficult.
Middle Creek won 7-3, which sets up a second-round game at rival Apex.
If things didn’t go well for the Mustangs’ first look at the cage, they stayed with it to force a quick turnover after Hoggard regained possession.
“We stress riding, and our attack did a great job riding the ball ... and causing turnovers,” Middle Creek coach Paul Robison said.
Matt Lingle was notified 30 minutes before the game, which started an hour early at 6 p.m. after the Mustangs (10-7) arrived around 4 p.m. in Wilmington, that he would get the start at goalie. Lingle and Nick Arcuri have alternated at goalie this year.
Lingle didn’t allow a second-half goal to Hoggard (9-8), and his teammates’ crisp slides made sure the shots he did face were low-percentage ones.
“I was told to mentally prepare for anything, whether he started or I started,” Lingle said. “The looks that they were getting were from outside which makes it a lot easier to save and easier to clear.”
Seven different players provided the goals for Middle Creek.
“The team showed a lot of discipline to come down here, keep our heads on a long ride down,” senior Ben Doetzer said. “We played great on defense.”
“We got right back to the hole, manned up. They had no breaks an no chances. Our poles played great on the attack. Completely shut them down.”
Apex swept Middle Creek this year 10-9 and 12-9.
“There’s nothing like the Middle Creek-Apex game,” Doetzer said. “Getting another chance at Apex – there’s nothing better than that.”
Blake: 919-460-2606; Twitter: @JMBpreps