Leesville Road’s performance Thursday night in winning 15-1 at Chapel Hill proved so big, the Pride’s head coach Franklin Zirkle had time enough to treat it more as family reunion than a nonconference boys lacrosse game.
Zirkle was joined on the sideline by his older son, Chandler Zirkle, a former all-state player for his dad when he coached at East Chapel Hill, and who was on break from graduate school at South Carolina. His younger son, Hartford Zirkle, also was there as the Pride’s junior varsity coach and varsity assistant. And his wife, Kimberly Eastman Zirkle, a former all-conference tennis player at Chapel Hill High School, was in the stands at Culton-Peerman Stadium to record the game for Leesville Road’s team.
“I’ve worn colors for three different teams in this stadium,” Kim Zirkle said, noting that Chandler Zirkle had played at Chapel Hill before transferring to East Chapel Hill to play for his dad’s state championship team.
“We’ve got a lot of history here,” Franklin Zirkle said.
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While Zirkle recorded several wins against Chapel Hill when he was coaching at East Chapel Hill, Thursday win was Leesville Road’s first game at Culton-Peerman. But the Pride looked like they owned the place, jumping out to a 4-0 lead in the opening minutes and turning that into a 10-0 lead by halftime.
When Nolan Brunik scored the first of his two goals, it put Leesville Road up 11-0 just 81 seconds into the second half.
Nick Agusta scored the game’s lone goal for Chapel Hill (2-2) on his only shot of the game, with 9 minutes, 23 seconds left in the third quarter, but Griffin McNamara answered just about 1 minute later of an assist by Cody Snyder, and Alex Shearer added a goal at the 6:36 mark of the third quarter to give the Pride a 13-1 lead, creating a running clock under the state’s “mercy rule.”
Missing four starters in an 11-10 loss March 3 at Northwest Guilford, Leesville Road (2-2) was still missing two of its top players Thursday: 2015 conference player of the year Davis Sampere (ankle) and leading scorer Parker Beebe (concussion).
“Between the norovirus and the flu and strep and whatever else, our numbers have been really low at practice,” Franklin Zirkle said. “It was really good to be able to work with so many guys tonight.”
Leesville Road was already ahead 6-0 midway through the second quarter when Adrian Brown, Eric Fitz and Kevin Steele each scored once in a span of 59 seconds, giving the Pride a 9-0 lead with 4 minutes, 28 seconds left in the first half.
By the numbers
9: different players scored for Leesville Road – Eric Fitz (3), Kevin Steele (2), John Stout (2), Nolan Brunik (2), Alex Shearer (2), Jack Walton, Adrian Brown, Andrew Crane and Griffin McNamara.
2: assists for Crane, while Snyder, Fitz and Brunick each made one assist.
22: Leesville Road’s margin in shots, with 34 to Chapel Hill’s 12.
32: ground balls by the Pride, while Chapel Hill scooped up 25.
3: extra-man goals for Leesville Road.
Three to know
Eric Fitz, Leesville Road: had a hat trick of three goals – all in the first half – plus an assist on the first goal of the game by John Stout.
Jack Walton, Leesville Road: “Walton decided he would be Davis Sampere tonight. He stepped in and played great on attack,” said Franklin Zirkle.
Kyle Hornik, Chapel Hill: The Tigers goalkeeper faced 34 shots, at least three of which were one-on-one with a Pride player, and still came up 16 saves.
They said it
“We were able to work inside-out and were able to find the back side, which is highly effective in lacrosse. When you can do that, you are going to get one-on-one with the goalie. Kyle Hornik is a great goalie. We also have a great goalie in Graham Holmes, and our Stephen Schelfie was able to play some tonight, too. But Kyle made some great saves, and he had a huge game.” Franklin Zirkle.
Leesville Road returns to conference action Friday at Heritage. Chapel Hill’s next game is Monday at home against Northern Vance.