Preston Lalicker got a pick, sprinted down the left side and fired in the game-winner in overtime to lift Apex to a 10-9 victory over Green Hope Friday night in a battle between the top-ranked teams in the Triangle and state.
The moment wasn’t too big for the freshman, who had seen his older brother Colby play in lots of big games including last year’s state championship victory.
“I got the ball in the corner and got good pick from Alex (McClure) so I kept running it. I felt nobody right on me and I decided to take the shot,” Lalicker said. “My brother was on this team as a freshman so it’s good to live up to the legacy.”
No. 1 Apex (6-0, 5-0) took a 4-3 lead into halftime against No. 2 Green Hope (6-1, 3-1) and went up 7-4 with three goals in the last three minutes of the third quarter.
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But the Falcons had one more push led by Tucker Burkinshaw. He scored two goals in a 2 minute, 11 second span to put the Falcons up 9-8 with 2:55 to go, but Apex’s Jack Hayden answered quickly on an assist from Christian Cechini with 1:57 to play.
The Falcons had the last look in regulation and won the sudden-death overtime faceoff. But a pass that couldn’t connect and went out of bounds turned it over, allowing Apex to set up Lalicker’s game-winner.
“They’re tough kids,” said Apex coach John Hayden of his team. “They’re athletes and they want to win.”
Lalicker wasn’t supposed to take the last shot upon himself, but Green Hope took away his passes to Hayden and Tommy DeLuca behind the net. So Lalicker sprinted around the left side and found some space before scoring.
They said it
“I was really pleased with how our guys were able to stay focused and battle back from a three-goal deficit,” Green Hope coach John Larkin said. “At the end of the day, our guys really showed a lot of grit and battled back.”
Three to know
Jack Hayden, Apex: Had three goals and one assist.
Tucker Burkinshaw, Green Hope: Three goals with one assist.
Preston Lalicker, Apex: The speedster scored two goals but also advanced the ball in a flash for the Cougars.
By the numbers
4: Entering the contest, neither team had allowed more than four goals to another N.C. team this season.
3: Goals by Green Hope’s Jack Larkin.
2: Goals by Apex’s Tommy DeLuca and Justin Freeman.
1: Goals by Green Hope’s Nolan Paussa (one assist), Dana Kelly and Aidan Callahan as well as Apex’s Alex McClure and Ryan Campbell. Apex’s Tyler Jones had one assist.