There are no style points in lacrosse.
That’s one reason Chapel Hill boys lacrosse head coach Brent Voelkel cared less about the way his Tigers won Tuesday than the fact that they came away with an 8-7 victory in the NCHSAA 1A/2A/3A tournament’s second round.
The game marked the first-ever post-season matchup of Chapel Hill and Carrboro teams, which play in different NCHSAA classifications in the regular seasons.
“It was an ugly win for us, but we survived and advanced,” Voelkel said. “Give Carrboro a lot of credit. They hung in there, and they easily could have won this game.”
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His son, Sean Voelkel scored the game-winner with 44.4 seconds remaining off an assist from Mike Wasson. Voelkel side-armed a left-handed shot from 20 yards out that Carrboro goalkeeper Evan Sullivan got his stick on, but the ball spun off the plastic rim of the stick and into the net.
“We were just trying to get the ball in the net, whoever had a shot,” Sean Voelkel said. “I just happened to have the ball in my stick and shot it. It looked rally good when it went in.”
Carrboro (7-7) led 3-0 early off goals from Jake Melville, Andrew Montross and William Cordes. Chapel Hill (12-6) answered with goals by Chris Matthews, Houston Holland and Voelkel to knot the game at 3-3 after one quarter, and it stayed tight the rest of the way.
Chapel Hill went up 4-3 on an unassisted goal by Wasson and 5-4 on a Wasson goal off a Voelkel assist. Carrboro tied the game with goals by Melville and Ben Darrow to make it a 5-5 score at halftime.
The Tigers took their biggest lead, 7-5, on third-quarter goals by Matthews and Wasson.
Carrboro fought back with Melville’s third goal, with an assist from Cordes, with 2:36 left in the third, making it a 7-6 game.
The Jaguars dominated play in the fourth, thanks in part to three extra-man opportunities in a span of 5:30, and tied the game for the last time on a strong shot by Cordes with 5:53 left in the game. Cordes’s second goal of the game came 3 seconds after the expiration of a Chapel Hill slash penalty, before an on-rushing Tiger defender could rejoin the action.
Every Carrboro shot in the final 5 minutes was either deflected by CHHS goalkeeper Kyle Hornik, who recently returned from an injury, or sailed wide.
“He’s had a great year, though he’s only been able to play in 10-11 games,” Brent Voelkel said. “It was great to have him back in the cage.”
Wasson ended up with Chapel Hill team highs of three goals and two assists, while Voelkel and Matthews each scored two goals. Cordes was Carrboro’s top scorer with three goals, giving him 37 on the year — almost twice as many as the next highest scorer for Carrboro: Darrow (20).
“We didn’t play particularly well as a team,” Brent Voelkel said. “We needed a lot of great individual efforts to win.”
Carrboro finished fourth this year in the NCHSAA’s Conference 5 behind East Chapel Hill, Riverside and Jordan, but was seeded as a No. 1 conference team in the 1A/2A/3A tournament because the top three teams were all seeded in the state’s 4A tournament. That meant Chapel Hill, which finished second in Conference 6 behind Cardinal Gibbons, had to visit Carrboro, and will be on the road again to Cardinal Gibbons for the third round if the heavily favored Crusader dispatch Orange.
The Jaguars made the most of their home-field opportunity Tuesday, playing a much more even game with Chapel Hill than they did in a season-opening loss, 11-6, on March 10 at Chapel Hill’s Culton-Peerman Stadium.
“We played them very early in the season the first time. We weren’t very organized,” Carrboro coach Ron Mitchell said. “This time we were able to scout them and do a lot of the things weren’t didn’t do well the first time.”
Carrboro had won three of its last four games coming into Tuesday. The lone loss was to 4A East Chapel Hill, a team that 2A Carrboro had beaten for the first time with a 7-6 upset earlier in the year.
“We had really jelled as a team and had come together at this point — and then we’re done,” Mitchell observed. “That’s just the nature of tournaments.”
East Chapel Hill falls in 4A playoffs at former coach’s new school
First-year Leesville Road head coach Franklin Zirkle said he had mixed feelings looking across the field at some of his former players prior to the start of Tuesday’s NCHSAA third-round 4A game.
That didn’t stop him from pumping his fist into the air after junior Griffin McNamara scored the game-winning goal with 3 seconds left in a sudden-victory period. With the clock ticking down, McNamara started from behind the crease and nailed a wrap-around shot to lift The Pride to an 8-7 win.
“That wasn’t the shot we were looking for him to take, but it worked,” said Zirkle.
“It was a great game. In the end, it came down to the best players making the biggest plays.”
Zirkle coached East Chapel Hill to a state championship in 2006 and state runner-up finishes in 2005 and 2011.
East’s Porter Alexander, Chris Cox and Ellis Llewellyn each scored in the third quarter to help the (12-5) Wildcats take a 6-5 lead. Alexander scored the last of his two goals to make it a 7-5 lead in the fourth before Leesville Road (15-1) answered with two late scores to force overtime with the score tied at 7-7.
“Both teams had opportunities in the overtime,” Zirkle noted, but The Pride managed to maintain possession for the last 1:20 of the 4-minute OT period.
Zirkle said that both East goalie Vance Perkins and The Pride’s Graham Holmes came up with multiple big saves, especially in the game’s last quarter and OT period.
Llewellyn, headed to Franklin & Marshall next season, finished with one goal and five groundballs. Coincidentally, Leesville Road’s McNamara plans to join Llewellyn on the F&M team the following year.
“I knew a lot of those kids at East when they were younger and I coached them in club ball,” Zirkle said. “And I know and respect the coaching staff there and the good job they do.
“I definitely had a lot of mixed emotions looking across that field.”