Triangle girls lacrosse aficionados will do a double-take when they see Friday’s Apex-Green Hope score at the Falcons’ field: Apex 13, Green Hope 5.
An Apex win over Green Hope grabs attention; the Falcons had swept Apex the past two years. So for the Cougars to win by a one-sided score -- Apex led 7-0 in the first 10 minutes -- requires explanation.
One reason was Apex once again has a strong team despite playing in Green Hope’s shadow the past couple of years. Mia Castagnero, a junior who has committed to Richmond, led the Cougars with four goals.
“I was glad we came out with the momentum early and kept it throughout the game,” Castagnero said. “We’re big rivals and there is a lot of competition between us.”
Apex coach Mike Bagnasco says he has a nice mix of veterans and young talent. Senior Jessi DeLuca, senior Erin Cornell, junior Abby Flynn and freshman Graci Fulkerson added two goals each and sophomore Kristen Masseli scored once.
“I think our front seven, our three middies and four attackers, is as good of a scoring combination as there is in the conference,” said Bagnasco, a former assistant who succeeded Sarah Fellows this year after she left the area for graduate school in Minnesota. “Our goalie, (senior) Rose Redfoot, is the best goalie in the state. Two of our defenders, Natalie (Barton) and Taylor (Verdi), are seniors who have been in the system.”
Another reason for the rout was Green Hope has been forced to adjust to a sudden coaching resignation. Just three days ago Logan Hill, a teacher and assistant softball coach, was asked to fill the role. Green Hope won its opener 15-5 over Pinecrest on Wednesday, Hill’s first day.
“We have to pick up from here in practice and work hard,” Hill said. “We can learn from our mistakes and improve from there.”
Mackenzie Koeller, a senior who is committed to play for Campbell, led the Falcons with four goals. Junior Lilly Stanley also scored for the Falcons.
“We have to put the coaching thing behind us and make the best of our situation,” Koeller said. “We’ve had a lot of help. Our athletic director, Wayne Bragg, picked up the phone as soon as he found out and started calling around to find a coach, and he’s helped coach us. We’re in a better situation now, and I think our team can grow from this.”
Koeller says the team has pulled together despite the turmoil.
“It helps that we’re all such great friends on and off the field,” she said. “We have good chemistry and we can click when we’re on the field. We have to work on our fundamentals, which will be hard, but we have experienced girls and we can help each other.”
Koeller pointed to Green Hope recovering from the 7-0 deficit to play the Cougars basically even in the final 35 minutes, 6-5.
Castagnero said the Cougars have in no way dismissed Green Hope as a contender this early in the season.
“This was a good win for us, but we know they still have some great players,” Castagnero said. “We’re not going to get too confident.”