Apex was the state runner-up two years ago and fell in the 4A East regional final last year.
Apex (13-3, 11-0*): The Cougars have won the last two SWAC titles but graduated many two- and three-year starters. Kristen Maselli (33 goals, 10 assists) and Graci Fulkerson (32 goals, 18 assists) are the top returning scorers. Tess Meurling gives Apex three returning all-conference players.
Middle Creek (10-4, 9-2*): Coming off their best season in school history, the Mustangs are led by junior two-time all-conference pick Sam Caputo (36 goals, 23 assists). Senior Maddy Boudreau (27 goals, 18 assists) is another top scoring option. Maddie Dahlgren and Haley Whitfield were second-team all-conference picks.
Green Hope (8-6, 8-4): The Falcons, under first-year coach Bob Stanley, are led by the senior trio of Allie Winiecki, Quincy Smith and Maddie McKinley.
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Athens Drive (9-6, 7-5): The Jaguars will miss all 102 of Madeline Bromley’s goals from last year. Senior Erin Kenedy (35 goals, 10 assists) is a returning first-team all-conference selection.
Panther Creek (5-8, 4-8): The Catamounts will be starting anew with several new starters, but junior Megan Collins is a two-year starter.
Holly Springs (2-11, 1-11): The Golden Hawks were young last year. Three all-conference players return: Brianna Petrusa, Rachel Anderson and Jenna Wilson.
Pinecrest (2-12, 1-11): Pinecrest’s first year of varsity play had some bright moments, led by first-team all-conference pick Meagan Gagnon. Jennifer Woods and Olivia Brock help provide senior leadership. The Patriots from Southern Pines are only SWAC members in lacrosse.
Apex Friendship: Friendship is led by former Panther Creek coach Pete DeStaebler.
*Apex and Middle Creek were unable to make-up their second head-to-head meeting.
Last seven conference champions
2015 - Apex
2014 - Apex
2013 - Green Hope
2012 - Green Hope
2011 - Apex
2010 - Apex and Green Hope
2009 - Apex*
Apex: (2007*, 2008*, 2009*, 2011)
Green Hope: (2005*, 2006*, 2012)
*before sport was sanctioned by NCHSAA