A two-hour drive can be a little more enjoyable when you’ve made school history.
Panther Creek’s girls lacrosse team hit I-40 West heading for home on Friday after winning the first playoff game in school history with a 17-11 win at Winston Salem’s R.J. Reynolds.
PC coach Pete DeStaebler said he could see the nerves with many of his players after they stepped off the bus and onto the field. The halftime score - a 5-5 tie - didn’t lie.
But the second half was all Catamounts, as they settled in and found a groove.
“We didn’t play our best in the first half, but I think we settled down, and you could see the result in the second half,” DeStaebler said. “A few of the girls played in the playoff game last year, but most had not.”
The Catamounts (11-5), who are enjoying the school’s first winning season, were led by seniors Claire Wach (five goals, two assists) and Angelina Wu (four goals), who each found holes in the Reynolds defense.
“We thought we could beat this team and we were just playing down to their level in the first half,” Wach said.
PC took 31 shots to Reynolds’ 18.
Wu said that “communication, seeing where all of our players are and knowing when to cut” made the difference.
Also scoring goals for PC were Brooke Namboodri (one goal), Sarah Oechslin (two goals, one assist), Jill Green (three goals, two assists), Erin Noonan (one goal) and Paige Kearnan (one goal, one assist).
Another long trip awaits Panther Creek in Tuesday’s second round, as the Catamounts will play at Charlotte Catholic.
“I love our team, so it’s fun to travel with them,” Wach said.
Other games: Apex (16-2) had no trouble in its first-round game against New Hanover on Friday. The defending state champs won 17-2 to set up Tuesday’s second-round game at East Chapel Hill.
Athens Drive (8-8), who also made the playoffs as a wild-card, giving Conference 2 four teams total, lost 18-9 at Wakefield on Friday. The Jaguars have made the postseason four years straight.
Green Hope (16-0) had a first-round bye and are scheduled to host Pfafftown Reagan in Tuesday’s second round.