Apex senior Brendan Farrell jumped, spun and took the shot that won a conference championship.
Farrell’s goal in a second sudden-death overtime period Friday handed Middle Creek its first loss of the year. The 9-8 victory gave the Cougars and Mustangs a co-Southwest Wake Athletic Conference title for the second straight year.
“It was fast. I never really dodge ever. I’m extremely slow and I usually just hang out in the crease,” Farrell said. “But I came running up the side and shot it.”
Farrell, who scored three times in the first quarter, and his teammates had been focused on this game since a 16-6 loss to the Mustangs (15-1, 15-1) earlier in the year. Apex (15-2, 15-1) hasn’t lost since.
“We’ve been coming back the whole time. We had to adjust a lot of things,” Apex coach John Hayden said. “Guys are getting minutes who hadn’t before.”
On Friday, Apex was shut out in the second quarter and trailed Middle Creek 5-3 at halftime. But the Cougars scored four straight goals to start the third quarter.
In the season’s first meeting, a 16-6 Mustangs win, Middle Creek’s Ryan Robley was so dominant in the faceoff circle that Apex spent most of the game without possession. On Friday, the Cougars adjusted how they handled Robley, cutting off his immediate passing lanes.
“They came in and locked some of our guys off,” Middle Creek coach Paul Robison said.
The Cougars moved the ball well from start to finish. Jack Hayden (two goals, one assist), Alex McClure (one goal, two assists), Ryan Campbell (one goal) and Chandler Besser (one assist) rounded out the scoring.
Middle Creek scored with 1:57 left to tie the game at 8-all and send the game into overtime. The Mustangs got five goals and one assist from Jack Doetzer, two goals from Dylan Bryan, one goal from Owen Caputo and one assist from Jared Medwar.
“It was our third game in four days, so that was a challenge for us,” Robison said. “We knew coming in it was going to be a one- or two-goal game.”
For playoff purposes, the teams will draw for the No. 1 seed from the league on Saturday. The other SWAC automatic seeds are No. 3 Athens Drive, No. 4 Green Hope and No. 5 Holly Springs.