Wakefield gave Apex a much tougher battle this time around, but the Cougars took a 14-8 girls lacrosse win to move onto the N.C. High School Athletic Association playoff semifinals Friday.
When Apex played Wakefield earlier in the season, the Cougars won 20-7.
“Our defense has stepped up in the last half of the season,” Wakefield coach Denna Grasso said. “We knew we need to double the ball, and we knew who we needed to double.”
The Wolverines’ strategy took away chances for Apex’s top two scorers – Mia Castagnero (four goals, one assist) and Erin Cornell (two goals, one assist) – but opened the door for Abbey Flynn (five goals, one assist) and Meredith Chapman (three goals, one assist).
“I was surprised they weren’t doubling me,” Flynn said. “It was like they put too much pressure. They would lunge, which is every attacker’s dream.”
A late scoring spree – five goals in the last three minutes – gave Apex a bigger margin of victory than what the game seemed destined for.
Despite the loss, Wakefield (16-3) completed its best season in school history. Looking ahead, the Wolverines are losing top scorer Ashley Blawas and most of their defense.
“Our goal was to get (to the semifinals) this year,” Grasso said. “We do lose a good core of our defense, but we have a lot of kids coming back. We are young, and that’s a good thing too. We’re not going away.”
Apex will travel to Cardinal Gibbons, which blasted Broughton 22-10. Gibbons beat Apex 18-14 during the regular season.
“We’ve got to clean up if we want to go play Gibbons, because Gibbons is going to score,” Apex coach Mike Bagnasco said. “So we’re going to have to not drop easy passes like we did today.”
Gibbons’ Shelby Scanlin and Rebecca Wilson combined for 12 goals against Broughton. The Crusaders grabbed an early 9-3 lead.
4A boys: Durham Jordan defeated East Chapel Hill 10-8, and Apex rallied for an 11-9 victory against Green Hope.
3A/2A/1A boys: Cardinal Gibbons raced past Chapel Hill 12-2 and will play Jacksonville, a 16-15 winner over Havelock, in the semifinals.
NCISAA finals: The Durham Academy boys will play Charlotte Latin and the Ravenscroft girls will play Charlotte Country Day on Saturday in the finals of the N.C. Independent Schools Athletic Association tournament.