RALEIGH — Players who enjoy faceoffs have to like contact and the pressure of having all eyes in the stadium on them.
Finding a player who can excel in this pressure-packed role can be one of the most important things a boys and girls lacrosse team can do, as evidenced Tuesday night in a playoff doubleheader at Cardinal Gibbons.
Both of the Crusaders teams had their faceoff person, and both advanced. Colin McKendry stepped up for the boys in a 14-7 second-round win against Chapel Hill, and Shelby Scanlin did the same for the girls in a 21-11 rout of Apex.
Its definitely nerve-wracking, but I like the challenge and the pressure that it brings, McKendry said.
Crusader girls 21, Apex 11
Scanlin controlled the draws and, subsequently, the game.
Scanlin, a junior who has committed to defending national champion Maryland, helped the Crusaders win 24 faceoffs, while Apex had just 10.
The Crusaders led just 10-7 at halftime. But with lopsided possession in the second half, the Crusaders ensured the game was nothing like their first meeting with Apex, a 16-14 win in overtime.
Theres different styles to taking the draw, and I tried a couple of them and I found the one that just worked every single time, Scanlin said. I used as much force as possible, and I pushed my way through and thought Im going to get this no matter what. And if I wasnt the one to get it, my team was right there to back me up.
Scanlin had seven goals to lead the Crusaders, while teammate Claire Nelson had four goals and four assists.
Shes a player who wants it on the draw, and the player who wants it usually gets it, said first-year coach Taylor Chumney.
Apexs Mia Castagnero had five goals and one assist. Gibbons awaits the winner of Wilmington Ashley and East Chapel Hill, a game moved to 5 p.m. Wednesday at N.C. Central University.
Crusaders boys 15, Chapel Hill 7
McKendry stands just 5-foot-6. But hes powerful, earning him the nickname dump truck.
McKendry, a Providence recruit, took a lot of the early draws, getting them out to Gibbons wings. The Crusaders ran out to a quick lead and did not look back.
A lot of times, the kids Im facing off (against) are normally much taller than me, and sometimes they send out a huge kid just to push me off the ball. I pride myself in my technique and being able to stay lower than the other guy, and I think thats what helps me, even though Im undersized, to get the ball.
Gibbons won 17 of the 26 draws, but the margin was somewhat deceiving as McKendry didnt have to take many of the draw late.
Colin McKendry is probably the best faceoff guy in the state, Chapel Hill coach Brent Voelkel said. I think my guy neutralized him to hold him up. We didnt get great wing play maybe in spurts but not enough. They won the ground ball battle, and that was obviously a big difference.
Gibbons will host Conference 2 rival Apex on Friday in the third round.
Blake: 919-460-2606; Twitter: @JMBpreps