Having seen their five-game winning streak halted earlier in the week, the Green Hope boys lacrosse team looked to begin another run on wins Friday after comfortably dispatching Cary 11-4 at Cooper Field.
The Falcons found themselves trailing 1-0 less than two minutes into the game, but the early goal served as a spark that would ignite 11 unanswered goals and a defensive stretch that saw them hold Cary (2-8, 2-7) scoreless for more than 22 minutes.
“That got us fired up. We wanted to get right back in the game,” said Tucker Burkinshaw, who led the Falcons with three goals. “We wanted to get back on track and have some positive energy going into next week. The schedule coming up looks tough.”
Coming off a 14-8 defeat to Apex earlier in the week – the Falcons’ first since March 14 – Green Hope (6-3, 6-3) found itself playing from behind before either team had time to break a sweat. The Imps took a 1-0 lead on Hunter MacConnell’s goal 1:09 into the game.
Green Hope didn’t find itself down for long, though. Nolan Paussa (two goals, one assist) scored less than two minutes later, and the Falcons took the lead for good at the 4:35 mark of the first period after Burkinshaw found the back of the net for the first time. Green Hope jumped ahead 5-1 by the end of the first thanks to goals from Burkinshaw, Paussa and Brewer Harris, who finished with two goals and an assist.
In all, six different players accounted for Green Hope’s 11 goals. Dana Kelly score twice, and Harrison Wynne and Sean Husk had one apiece.
“The guy that scores the goal, it’s also the other three or four guys that set it up, doing their job,” said Green Hope coach John Larkin. “We’re very lucky to have guys that can finish, but we’re also lucky to have guys that can get it to a point for those guys to get a good look to finish.”
Cary’s attack simply lacked bite. Chris Leder looked to get the offense going from the point, but Green Hope took away the middle, and the Imps didn’t have enough movement away from the ball in order to unlock the Falcons’ defense or give Leder many options. On the handful of occasions when the Imps had a good look at the goal, Green Hope goalkeeper Conor Ryan was up to the task. He finished the night with six saves.
“When we took the middle away, they wanted to get the pass into the crease. We locked that off and they just had to circle around, which we had an easy time defending,” Ryan said.
Cary’s MacConnell doubled his tally early in the third period, and Ethan Lewis and Brendon Reeser added a goal apiece for the Imps in the second half.
As the Falcons enter the second half of their season, they’ll look to their defense to help them keep pace in the race for the playoffs (the top five in Conference 3 get into the postseason). In their six wins, they’ve allowed an average of 3.33 goals per game. But in their three losses, they’ve allowed 13.3.
“Tonight, to come out and right the ship as big for us,” Larkin said. “We have two, three busy weeks coming up trying to get out whole schedule in. I think we play three games a week until we’re done, and we’ll see where we land -- hopefully in the playoffs.”