Ellis Llewellyn knows almost exactly how East Chapel Hill teammate Chris Cox feels after being named All-American as a junior. Llewellyn likewise earned his first All-American honors last year as a junior.
“It was great,” Llewellyn said, adding that despite all the expectations he would earn the honor again this year, “For me, there was no pressure.”
“Honestly, I was surprised,” Cox said. “My coach and my parents had kept it a secret until the team banquet. I just felt very, very honored.”
Llewellyn, a senior long stick middie heading next season to Franklin and Marshall, and Cox, a junior midfielder, this week became the first pair of Wildcats to earn U.S. Lacrosse All-America honors in the same year.
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“They’re reliable and consistent competitors, which is the underlying secret to their greatness,” East Chapel Hill head coach Dominic Koplar wrote in an email last week. “It’s been a pleasure to walk the sidelines with both Chris and Ellis, and it definitely made for a special season.”
Lewellyn is the first East Chapel Hill player to repeat as All-American since faceoff wizard Steven Augustine did it in 2010-11. East’s all-time leading scorer, Tony Mendes (2006-07), is the only other East player who was twice named All-American.
“Being an All-American means you can play with the very best,” Llewellyn said. “But there’s responsibility that comes with it. Being an All-American means you have to step up and be a team leader.”
Llewellyn, who graduated from East Chapel Hill this weekend, will continue to serve as a leader this summer at Camp Seagull, where he will head up the renowned sailing camp’s newly created lacrosse program.
Llewellyn had a team-high 103 ground balls this season for East (12-5) — 113 grounders last year. Both those numbers rate in the top-15 single-season performances for East.
Naturally defensive minded as a long stick middie, Llewellyn, nonetheless had 13 goals and 10 assists this year. That included a two-goal performance in a 14-7 victory over archrival Chapel Hill and a behind-the-back score in a 9-3 win against Panther Creek in the N.C. High School Athletics Association state playoffs.
“He possesses the skills — both tangible and intangible — that make any coach’s job infinitely easier,” Koplar said. “His speed and field vision are unreal, and he is a groundball hawk.”
Cox accounted for more than one-third of East’s 178 scores this year. He led the Wildcats in goals (62) and points (84) and had 22 assists
Koplar said Cox’s “amazing field vision” will help him pursue the N.C. high school season points record (114) set in 2014 by then-senior Wildcat Ian Levin, who earned All-American honors last year.
“On the field he has a natural fluidity to his game that is incomparable,” Koplar said. “His stick skills and ability to create offense within tight spaces are unreal. Absolutely the kind of player that elevates those around him, brings ‘fun’ to the game.”
Cox plans to play this summer with the Carolina Cannons travel club and also to do what thousands of North Carolina teens are doing: “Looking for a summer job ... anything that pays money.”