In the rigid Southwest Wake Athletic Conference, there has been little variance in who has owned the boys lacrosse crown – it’s been Apex or Middle Creek almost every season for the last decade. However, Green Hope is now in second place as the league gets by the midway point.
Head coach John Larkin, who’s leading the Falcons (9-2, 9-1) for his fourth year, had a .642 win percentage in his first three seasons, but never was able to finish higher than third in the SWAC. He said this year’s squad is more of a unit than his Green Hope teams of the past.
“This year, we got the guys dialed in,” he said. “Everybody is in, everyone is all in and that’s been the difference where there’s no separation. Here, we have 28 guys that are all in.”
Goalie Conor Ryan, who’s been on varsity since Larkin’s first season, has been a standout between the pipes for the Falcons through the program’s ups and downs over the past four years. With an elusive win over Apex under his belt, he’s already eager to do it again.
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“It’s a huge stepping stone. ... These guys grinded and fought for everything,” he said. “It’s always a goal for us and now it’s going to be even more of a goal now that we’ve done it, to do it again.”
That grinding and fighting can make for a good defense, but Larkin said it’s cohesiveness that’s making the Falcons a defensive stalwart.
“Every time that we got lost on defense, that’s when I heard us,” Larkin said, “that’s when we were communicating and starting to execute, all seven guys on defense.”
The last Green Hope team to beat Apex was in 2010 when assistant coach Chase Kaznowski was a team captain.
“It’s been something that I always wanted another team to do,” he said. “They earned it and I’m glad it was this group.”
Green Hope’s only league loss was to Middle Creek, 19-5. There’s a rematch in the season’s final week on April 25. If the Falcons can hold serve, including an April 18 game against Apex, that game could be the difference between finishing second and earning a co-title.