East Chapel Hill – historically a dominant program in boys lacrosse – expects nothing different this year as the Wildcats already have a commanding lead in NCHSAA Conference V.
East returns 12 seniors, including captains Ian Levin, who’s already committed to Hampden-Sydney, midfielder Kelley Scroggs and four-year starter Daniel Wittekind.
Thursday night in Durham County Memorial Stadium, East’s physical play proved to be too much for Northern Durham as the Wildcats (6-3, 4-0) dominated in an 18-1 victory. It was the Wildcats’ sixth straight win against NCHSAA public school teams. (After a season-opening loss to No. 1 Cardinal Gibbons, East has lost only to two out-of-state prep teams.)
East’s intense defensive pressure gave no breathing room for the Knights (1-5, 0-3), while its offense had no issue finding the back of the net.
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East has the top two scorers in the Triangle, led by Levin (31 goals and 26 assists) and Drew Monroe (26 goals, 9 assists). Chris Cox (20 goals) gives East a third player among the Triangle’s top 10 scorers.
After losing in the third round of the 2013 state playoffs last year, early by East’s standards, the Wildcats want to “break the mold on what lacrosse is supposed to be and move towards what they think it should be,” Wittekind said.
Senior Skylar Nicole believes a change in coaching staff – led by first-year head coach Dominic Koplar, a history teacher at East – has strengthened the Wildcats’ collective drive, and that the staff’s extreme “investment in the team” creates a competitive environment.
So far that’s paid off handsomely for East. It already has a lead in Conference V on Riverside (2-4, 1-2) and Jordan (3-4, 2-1) – both of whom East has beaten head-to-head. While Jordan remains within striking distance with six conference games to go, the team with the best chance to catch the ‘Cats would be Carrboro (4-2, 2-2).
East plays at Carrboro on April 8 and hosts the Jaguars May 2 for what would be the last regular-season game for both teams. Jordan, which defeated Carrboro 12-5 on March 21, hosts East on April 29.
Michael Balog, CHN Correspondent