In a matchup of two boys lacrosse teams that sorely needed a win to turn around their seasons, Panther Creek ran away with the game early and never let up. The Catamounts smashed Sanderson and earned their second victory of the season with a 14-2 decision on Tuesday at Sanderson.
Ben Richter ignited the Catamounts (4-5, 3-5 Southwest Wake) offensively, finishing with four goals on the afternoon. Before the halfway point of the game, the senior already tallied a hat trick, outscoring Sanderson (2-7, 1-5 Cap Eight) through the first two quarters.
“It was great to see Ben get the ball rolling for us,” Panther Creek coach Steve Haine said. “We have several seniors on this team that contribute, and Ben really stepped up for us today. It was great to see them all get some points and build some confidence going forward.”
Richter’s attacking skills helped propel Panther Creek, but the Catamounts’ defense was equally as impressive. Andrew Pritko stymied Sanderson in goal, shutting out the Spartans for the first two quarters before allowing two goals down the stretch.
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Junior Michael Bell scored the first goal for the Spartans, which is a trend Sanderson coach Dexter Tillett hopes to see continue in the future. While he knew his team faced a tough opposition in Pritko, Tillett wants to see his younger players producing to build toward the future.
“It definitely killed us not finishing on open shots, but that was also due to their defense,” Tillett said. “They’re a very good team with a great goalie that beat Leesville last year in the first round. ... They’ve been a program for 13 years, so it’s hard for us to compete with that.
“Sanderson has never won more than two games, so we’ve already matched that total. ... But the goal the rest of the season is to set up these juniors to build momentum for next year. We just have to keep building.”
The Spartans still have a lot of work to do in order to climb back into the Cap Eight. On the other side, the Catamounts are finally on a roll before going up against Apex again.
Panther Creek was blown out by Apex earlier this season, 12-3, but will look to avenge that loss after four straight wins. Haine acknowledged that his team still has some work to do before going against the gauntlet in conference.
“We’ve finally gotten to a point where we know the plays being called and can execute,” he said. “Now that we’ve kind of hit the reset button, we can finally see how the team is supposed to look. We got crushed earlier in the season because those top guys are really tough.
“Now we’ll have those same tests again moving forward. We just hope to keep showing that improvement.”
Over its last two games, Panther Creek has tallied 31 goals and held opponents to just four. With Ian Pierno, Parker Williams (three goals) and Cam Sechler all punching in at least two goals each, the progress from the Catamounts’ offense might lead to more wins down the stretch in a tough conference.