Panther Creek’s boys lacrosse team has come to embrace the wild-card spot in the playoffs.
Wednesday’s 8-7 win at Millbrook lifted the Catamounts to the second round of the N.C. High School Athletic Association 4A playoffs. Panther Creek finished sixth in the Southwest Wake Athletic Conference for the second straight year and was also a wild-card last season when it advanced to the third round.
“It partially comes from us being in such a good conference that they prepare us all year, just seeing this awesome competition,” said Panther Creek goalie Andrew Pritko, who had 20 saves. Other teams “are not going to be as good as those teams that we’ve been playing necessarily. It just gives us confidence that we can win this game and that we can pull together and succeed.”
It wasn’t easy for Panther Creek (8-10), as Millbrook (9-7) forced turnovers and got going in transition to go from down 5-1 at halftime to trail 8-7 with just more than a minute left.
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“You kind of expect that in the playoffs,” Panther Creek coach Steve Haine said. “They’re down 3-4 goals, they’re the home team in the fourth quarter. We knew they were going to come out like that,”
The Catamounts were balanced. Dillon May had three goals, Caleb Cross added two, and three other players – Cameron Sechler, Conner Coole and Tanner Davis – each added one.
Panther Creek will travel to East Chapel Hill in Friday’s second round.
Millbrook, the 4-seed in the Cap Eight, received goals by Anthony Florian, Shain Jeffries,Travis Stoker (two) and Joe Cooper (three). Garrett Patnesky had one assist, as did Cooper and Stoker.
“It’s a good way to finish the season but a tough way to finish the season,” Millbrook coach Philip Herndon said. “You can’t ask for anything else for them to play like that. They played as hard as they could.”
Carrboro upsets Wildcats girls
In similar fashion to Panther Creek, Carrboro’s girls proved the strength of its conference with an 11-7 first-round playoff win at Millbrook. All four playoff teams from “Conference 5,” which takes the girls lacrosse teams from the Mid-State 2A, Big Eight 3A and PAC-6 4A, are playing in Friday’s second round.
The Jaguars (5-9) dodged the Wildcats’ defenders all night and led 8-6 at halftime.
Millbrook (9-7) got its goals from Dana Florian (three), Emily Fordice (two), Makena Neubert and Brooke Elsam.
Carrboro’s scorers were: Lauren Bartek (two goals, one assist); Lyn Nelson (two goals, one assist); Mackenzie Cox (three goals); Carolyn McLeod (one goal, one assist); Catherine Strong (one goal); Logan Melville (one goal) and Isabel Chung (one goal).
Carrboro will travel to Wilmington’s Hoggard High on Friday.
Other first-round games
Sanderson’s girls made the best of their first postseason game in a 10-8 victory at Topsail. The Spartans will travel to Apex on Friday. In other girls’ second-round games Friday, East Chapel Hill (won 14-7 at Green Hope) will travel to Jacksonville while Athens Drive (won 21-11 against Heritage) goes to Cardinal Gibbons.
In the 4A boys’ playoffs on Wednesday, Wakefield fell 9-7 to Wilmington’s Ashley High while Riverside defeated Holly Springs 11-10 and will travel to New Bern Friday. The 1A/2A/3A boys’ playoffs start Friday.