Middle Creek’s girls lacrosse players understand overnight success stories are a fairy tale in the Southwest Wake Athletic Conference that is topped by state powers Green Hope and Apex, the latter the state runner-up a year ago.
But Mustangs senior Holly Hite says they are building on last year’s strong finish as the veteran lineup beat Panther Creek 15-9 in a SWAC match Tuesday night at Middle Creek.
“Lacrosse is getting better and better here,” said Hite, who led the Mustangs with six goals. “We have a lot returning players and a couple of new players. It’s about the same team as last year and we’re getting to know each other.”
Turning point: Both defenses were asleep to start as Panther Creek sophomore Megan Collins scored in the first 28 seconds and Hite answered 21 seconds later to tie the match within the first minute of play.
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The game was still tied 5-5 midway through the first half until Middle Creek (2-1, 2-0) called a timeout and outscored the Catamounts (1-3, 1-3) 5-1 over the final 11 minutes.
“We picked it up in the second part of the first half,” Middle Creek coach Rosemarie Piccirillo said. “We regrouped after the timeout and came out with a better attack plan and better defense. Those were the things we talked about in practice. Overall it was a good win for us. We’re 2-0 in conference and looking forward to the next match.”
Tough in goal: Another reason Panther Creek couldn’t keep up with Middle Creek was Mustangs junior goalie Haley Whitfield, who had 14 saves. Several of the saves were spectacular with Catamounts on top of her.
“You have to keep your eyes on the ball and talk to your defense,” Whitfield said. “You have to have a positive mindset because you’re going to get scored on and you’re going to get hit.”
And then she added with an ironic smile about getting hit: “You have to be a little crazy to play goalie. That ball hurts.”
Looking ahead: Six of the Catamounts’ starters are sophomores and freshmen, but Panther Creek coach Allie DuChon sees growth.
“I liked how we were riding pretty hard in the first half,” said DuChon of the field position game. “It’s something we’ve been working on. But I wish we would have done a better job on ground balls. That’s a major part of winning a game. They outplayed us on ground balls, but we’ll get better.”
Putting up numbers: For Panther Creek, Collins finished with five goals, while senior Logan Colwell, senior Sarah Oecshlin and senior Maddie Pillar added one goal each.
In addition to Hite, Middle Creek sophomores Kylie McElroy and Emma Lopes scored three goals each, while senior Morgan Kocor, junior Maddie Boudreau, junior Anna Weir added one each.