The Wakefield boys’ lacrosse team wanted to seize momentum as quickly as it could Friday night against Cap-8 Conference foe Millbrook, a battle of league unbeatens.
Wolverines junior captain Ryan Finley took a feed from Riley Johnson and put the ball into the back of the net just 49 seconds into the contest, and Wakefield never looked back in the 15-7 victory.
The Wolverines, No. 9 in the News & Observer’s rankings, outshot the Wildcats 19-6 in the opening quarter, taking a 7-2 lead that never got closer than three goals the rest of the way. Wakefield moved to 6-0 overall in the Cap-8.
“We always want to come out fast,” Wakefield head coach John Fernandez said. “You come out fast at the start and get ahead, it is awfully tough for an opponent to dig out of that hole.”
Finley led all scorers with four goals, along with two assists.
Millbrook (5-2, 4-1) was able to six out of seven face offs in the second quarter, and held a 14-9 shots edge during the 12-minute span. However, a Wakefield defense that slid out early on attackers limited solid goal-scoring chances.
“We had a game plan, it just didn’t pan out the way we wanted,” Wildcats coach Adam Kraciuk said. “We had a couple shots right on post that bounced out in the second. But more often it was us missing passes, not executing. They slid up on us early and it got us off balance both physically and mentally.”
Millbrook scored three of the first goals in the second quarter, getting back-to-back tallies from senior captain Joe Cooper and another from junior attacker Cruz Waerness. It seemed to be back in the game.
Three missed Wildcats shots on the next possession ended up leading to a Wolverines fast break, which ending with an unassisted goal by freshman Connor Pimung with 3:17 left in the half to make it 9-5.
Wakefield added a goal with exactly 2 minutes left in the half to lead 10-5 and gain all the momentum.
“It’s a high-intensity game when Wakefield and Millbrook play,” Kraciuk said. “We’re big rivals, and you could see we both wanted it. The momentum there, it was huge.”
They said it
“We’ve got chemistry. It’s all about chemistry, chemistry, chemistry. We all love each other so much. And when we get out there, we all work together,” Wakefield junior defender Sam Groce.
Three to know
Connor Pimung, Wakefield: Freshman midfielder had three goals and four assists to give him 11 goals and 10 assists on the season. He helped create multiple chances with his work behind the net.
Kevin Ritter, Wakefield: Another Wolverines freshman who were constantly applying pressure on Millbrook’s defense. He had three goals and two assists to boost his totals to 17 and 11 on the year.
Josh Madey, Millbrook: The senior goalkeeper had seven saves while being under duress for most of the match as his team was outshot.
By the numbers
48-30: Shots advantage for Wakefield.
7: Saves by Wolverines’ goalie senior Luke Russell.
6:38: Time left when Millbrook got its first shot of the fourth quarter.