The Middle Creek boys lacrosse team is taking on the look of a championship contender.
The Mustangs used a balanced attack to charge past Enloe 13-8 on Tuesday might at Mustang Stadium to advance to the fourth round of the NCHSA 4A playoffs.
Sophomore Jared Medwar scored six goals, freshman Owen Caputo added three and senior Dylan Bryan had two as the Mustangs’ offense was sharp. Plus, Middle Creek clamped down on Eagles’ star attackmen Caelan Eckard and Tanner Hudson, while Nick Arcuri was solid in goal.
“If you lose, you’re out,” Medwar said. “There’s no second chance. We lost to Apex (in the regular-season finale), and that really motivated us to make sure we wouldn’t lose and go all the way. We need to make sure to keep winning and not worry about what would happen if we lose.”
Middle Creek lost to Jordan in the second round last season, and coach Paul Robinson wanted to make sure his team didn’t look too far ahead in 2015.
“After last year, the team kinda got ahead of itself, and it stung us,” Robinson said. “This year, we’re really focused on one game at a time, not looking over anybody – and survive and advance.”
Enloe coach Chase Kaznowski was emotional as he spoke about his team, which ended the season 13-5.
“It’s a tough way to go out,” Kaznowski said, pausing to compose himself. “Two years ago, (my) first year, (we were) 3-12. Everything the seniors and juniors have put into this season and those three years, you can’t ask for anything more as a coach. That’s all I ever wanted, and that’s what we got. These kids gave me everything from day one.”
Eckard scored four goals, including three in the first quarter as Enloe took a 3-2 lead. But Middle Creek gave up only one Eagles goal over the second and third quarters, using a physical presence to keep the ball out of Eckard’s and Hudson’s sticks as much as possible.
“They have two really good attackmen,” Robinson said. “We put in a gameplan to lock them and pressure them, and it worked out.”
Senior Jack Diebolt was especially effective on defense.
“He moved down from LSM to close, and that really solidified our defense this year,” Robinson said. “He must’ve had five picks on some passes, and he cleared the ball a bunch of times. He was outstanding down there.”
Hudson ended his career with a goal in the fourth quarter, though junior Eckard will be back for 2016.
“Almost everybody at this point knows our two guys,” Kaznowski said. “This isn’t the first time they get locked off, and it won’t be the last time (Eckard) will get locked off. They’re two great kids.”
Hudson’s first goal cut the Middle Creek lead to 7-4 in the third, but the Mustangs reeled off five goals in a row. Medwar scored with 16.1 second left in the third and got another 49 seconds into the fourth. He capped the 5-0 run with his sixth goal with 7:05 remaining that put the game out of reach at 12-4.
“We have six guys on the field who can finish,” Robinson said. “It’s just, ‘Who’s day is it?’ Today, Jared stepped up. Another day, it’ll be somebody else.”
Medwar, though, deflected the credit.
“It involves the whole team,” Medwar said. “It’s not just one player.”