With most of its defense back from a team that made it to the third round of last year’s state playoffs in boys lacrosse, Riverside thought it had a decent strategy for slowing down Chapel Hill in the season-opening game for both teams. They Pirates thought they could keep Chapel Hill from getting too close to their crease and limit the Tigers ability to get open looks at the goal.
But, like a hot-shooting basketball team bombing in 3-pointers, Chapel Hill proved effective with a series of long-range shots and grabbed an early lead it never relinquished in a 12-4 win against Riverside.
“Defensively, we’ve got three starters back along with our goalie (Neo Cruz),” Riverside head coach Evan Leekley said. “That’s all well and good, but if you get a stop and clear it and then turn it over, which we did a dozen times or more, you’re coming right back down on defense – and there’s only so much you can ask of the defense.”
Junior midfielder Sean Voelkel, son of Chapel Hill head coach Brent Voelkel, scored three goals in the game’s first 18 minutes to help the Tigers to a 6-1 lead by halftime.
Voelkel added three more goals in the second-half for a game-high six goals total. All but one of his shots were came from at least 20 feet outside the crease.
Though Riverside had 10 extra-man opportunity, thanks to Chapel Hill’s 10 minutes in penalties, the Pirates converted on just one opportunity – a goal by Addison Oliver.
Both Riverside (0-1) and Chapel Hill (1-0) are rebuilding.
Like Riverside, which lost in the N.C. high schools 4A tournament to eventual champion Apex, Chapel Hill likewise lost in the 3A/2A/1A tournament to its eventual champion – Cardinal Gibbons.
Riverside graduated players who accounted for 90 of its goals, while Chapel Hill not only graduated the bulk of its defense, it also lost at least four players who transferred to other schools like Virginia Episcopal and Woodberry Forest.
Three to know
Kyle Hornik: Chapel Hill’s goalkeeper was solid all night, collecting 12 saves, including two at almost point-blank range. He even forced at least two Pirate turnovers by aggressively going after any Pirate who got too close to his crease.
Addison Oliver: The only returning player for Riverside with any significant experience on offense, Oliver was the Pirates’ No. 1 offensive option and took most of their 19 shots.
Sean Voelkel: An early commit to St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia, the left-handed Voelkel not only had a game-high seven points, but also helped Chapel Hill take a 39-24 margin in ground balls.
By the numbers
11: Chapel Hill’s margin in shots, with 30 to Riverside’s 19.
12: saves for both teams’ goalies. Hornik went the distance for Chapel Hill, while Jacob Anderson replaced Neo Cruz in Riverside’s goal for the game’s last 4:06 and made one save.
3: Chapel Hill players (in addition to Voelkel) had two goals – Nick Agusta, Kyle Healy and T.J. Malloy.
They said it
“Our guys know this is game one. This was a non conference game. Fortunately this doesn’t count toward your playoff standing, so this really was good opportunity to get out there and see what you need to work on when you get back to practice.” – Riverside coach Evan Leekley.
“We went to Northwest Guilford last weekend for an all-day ‘play day’ and we weren’t very encouraged. We didn’t play very well. We told the guys to come out tonight and just do the fundamentals: Try to catch the ball, make good throws and play good defense. We still have a tremendous amount of work to do. We’ve got some good opponents coming up, … We’ll have to get better quickly.” – Chapel Hill coach Brent Voelkel.