APEX No defense could contain Apex’s girls lacrosse team on Tuesday night in a battle for conference supremacy. Whether it was while being face-guarded or getting out in transition, the Cougars racked up the goals against rival Green Hope.
The Cougars, No. 3 in The News & Observer area rankings, completed a season sweep of visiting No. 7 Green Hope with an 18-11 win, all but locking up the conference title while flashing some supreme stick-skills in its morale-crushing scoring runs.
No run was more impressive than a three-goals-in-14-seconds scoring spree in the first half that stretched a two-goal lead into an avalance that ended with Apex leading 10-4 at halftime.
"It’s almost becoming our M.O. The biggest problem we’ve had is we haven’t practiced a long time together. Because of the weather, all we do is play games. So a lot of what they’re doing is instinct," Apex coach Mike Bagnasco said. "Our three middies and four attackers – that combination is the best in the conference. They’ve played together for a long time and they’re all D1 commits."
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Apex also converted all of its free-position shots. The Cougars (8-1, 6-0) knew to not get too confident despite its 13-5 win in the teams’ first meeting during the opening week of the season.
In the second half, Green Hope (4-2, 2-2) tried to slow down the pace and it worked to a degree. The Falcons limited Apex’s possession time and tempted the eager Cougars into fouling, thus opening up free-position shots.
Green Hope was led by four goals and one assist from Campbell recruit Mackenzie Koeller. The Falcons got two goals from Maddie McKinley and Quincy Smith (one assist) and one goal from Avery Hidalgo (one assist), Emily Lester and Lilly Stanley (two assists).
Though Apex goalie Rose Redfoot saved many of the Falcons’ best chances, Green Hope chipped away at the lead at times.
"I think as a goalie it’s important for me – when they do score, even though I’m frustrated – to just go out and say ‘good job’ to everyone and tell them to re-focus. Usually, when they see me being really confident, it rebuilds their confidence," said Redfoot, an American University recruit.
Green Hope started to claw back into the game late, cutting the lead to four with 12:27 in the second half. But Apex won the draw and scored 10 seconds later.
"We just re-focused on what we were supposed to be doing and we cleaned up the little things like dropped passes, ground balls (and) beating the other team to the ball," said Apex senior attacker Erin Cornell (six goals).
Apex junior midfielder Mia Castagnero had four goals and two assists. Teammates Abbey Flynn and Kristen Maselli had two goals and one assist apiece and the rest of the Cougars received balanced scoring.
Apex got one goal from Sarah Arbes, Meredith Chapman (two assists), Jessie DeLuca and Graci Fulkerson respectively. Elisabeth Lowe had one assist and Ashley Anderson had two.
The Cougars’ remaining four league games in the six-team Conference 2 – known in other sports as the Southwest Wake Athletic –come against teams that they have already beaten by double digits.
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