Middle Creek’s boys lacrosse team did not look like a team that had only practiced outside once before opening the season on Tuesday.
Middle Creek cruised by Southwest Wake Athletic Conference foe Athens Drive 14-8 in the season opener for both teams.
The Mustangs figured to have a strong team this season because the SWAC co-champs didn’t lose much to graduation. New faces like freshman Owen Caputo (seven goals) give it even more optimism.
“I didn’t know what to expect, but I’m happy with the result,” Middle Creek coach Paul Robison said. “We have an underclassmen attack line, and that’s nice. We were able to bump some senior attackmen up to midfield and get some leadership in the midfield, and it’s a nice thing to have.”
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Middle Creek jumped out to a 5-0 lead in the game’s first six minutes and held an 11-4 halftime advantage.
Senior goalie Nick Arcuri of Middle Creek (1-0, 1-0) made acrobatic saves – he ended up doing a split on one of them – to ensure the Jaguars didn’t mount a comeback.
Robison said his upperclassmen are “self-motivated” after being one-and-done in the playoffs last year despite receiving a first-round bye. It was just the second loss of the season.
“The motivation is definitely not to let last year ever happen again,” Arcuri said. “When I walked outside today, I was like ‘The last time I walked out to go to a lacrosse game, we lost in the playoffs.’ And that really fueled my fire to go out there and make some big stops.”
Rounding out the scoring for Middle Creek were goals by Dylan Bryan (one goal, one assist), Charlie Doetzer (two goals), Jack Doetzer (one goal, one assist), Riley McConnell (one goal), J.J. Tolentino (one goal) and Jared Medwar (one goal, three assists).
Meanwhile, Athens Drive (0-1, 0-1) knew it would take some time to gel with 14 seniors having graduated from a year ago.
“Unfortunately, we came out a little flat,” second-year Athens coach Jeff Salvado said. “But I thought in the second half they did a really good job of responding a little more aggressive, the way we practiced.”
Bobby Padden (two goals, one assist), Brock Martin (one goal), Conor Gronbach (four goals) and P.J. Bernstein (one goal) rounded out the Jaguars’ scoring. Peyton Smith and Jackson Ligon each had one assist.
“We probably didn’t synch in as much on defense as I would have liked,” Salvado said. “But honestly I think we walked away from this game with a lot of positives.”