APEX — One of the difficulties of coaching a talented team is keeping them motivated when they are in control of the game. That’s been the challenge for Apex coach Sarah Fellows at times during the regular season, but Friday’s playoff game wasn’t one of them.
Apex scored early and often and didn’t let up, defeating Broughton 20-9 in the first round of the NCHSAA girls’ lacrosse tournament.
Apex (13-4) jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first four minutes, putting the pressure on Broughton (10-7) and setting the tone for a fast-paced first half.
Broughton responded with two quick goals, cutting the lead to 4-2 with more than 14 minutes remaining in the first half. Apex pushed back with a blistering run of nine goals in 12 minutes to take a comfortable 14-5 lead into halftime.
Facing a good Broughton team, Fellows knew her team couldn’t afford to let up despite the score. She had seen it happen before and didn’t want it to happen again.
“We’ve definitely had times this season, playing weaker teams, where we get so complacent with where we are and we just don’t come out and play in the second half,” she said.
Fellows’ team put her worries to rest quickly, coming up with three goals in the first five minutes of the second half to increase its lead to 12, putting the game out of reach.
Mia Castagnero came up big for Apex, scoring five goals and adding two assists. The sophomore midfielder said she and her teammates were determined not to have a let down in the playoffs.
“We’ve had games where we’ve lost control, but we’ve grown from that,” she said. “We stayed consistent.”
Sydney Fry led Broughton with five goals.
Broughton coach Patricia Alexander said that though she was disappointed with the result, she was pleased with her team’s effort. She said she sees good things in her team’s future as most of her players will not only be back next year, but will compete in summer leagues that will keep their skills sharp.
“We have at least eight or nine kids doing travel teams, which is only going to make us better.”
Meanwhile, Apex will travel to Cardinal Gibbons for the second round Tuesday. Gibbons came from behind to defeat to defeat Apex, 16-14 in overtime, in their regular season matchup.
“We’ve had tremendous growth since that first Gibbons game,” Fellows said. “We’re ready. I’m confident in them.”