With Tuesday’s boys lacrosse game hanging in the balance, Northwood knew to keep an eye on Orange’s top-scorer, Zach Wright.
But, a man down after a slashing penalty, the shorthanded Chargers couldn’t keep Wright away from the crease, and he brushed off one defender and sent in a sidewinding shot from about 12 yards out with 1:52 left in regulation for the game-winning goal in Orange’s 8-7 victory.
The win more than made up for Orange’s 9-8, overtime loss at Northwood on March 11, Panthers coach David O’Neal said. Unlike the previous meeting, Tuesday’s match counted in the NCHSAA Conference 6 standings, and it boosted Orange to 4-3 overall, 2-0 in conference games.
“Northwood-Orange is always a great game, every time, and we love playing them,” O’Neal said. “We just agreed that the second game every year would be the conference game. Last year, the game at Northwood (a 9-7 Orange win) was the conference game.”
The Chargers’ loss broke their 6-game winning streak and dropped Northwood to 6-2, 1-1.
“We’re a very young team, and we hadn’t beaten a good team yet like them, so this was a very big win for us,” Wright said.
Northwood scored three straight goals – one each by Nate Little, John Terzotis and Jacob Bass – to grab an early 3-1 lead. Wright scored Orange’s next three goals in a stretch of 9 minutes to tie the game, and Orange never trailed again.
All of Wright’s first-half goals were unassisted, but his third came with 8:24 left in the second quarter after he used a screen by Payton Wilson to slough off two defenders and got an open look at the crease.
The Turning Point
Orange was leading 6-5 when two players tangled at midfield. Despite what appeared to be a slash by the Northwood player, his Orange counterpart drew the only penalties – an unsportsmanlike conduct call, followed by two deadball unsportsmanlike penalties – resulting in his ejection and 5 minutes of unreleasable time in the box.
Northwood got off six shots in the extra-man opportunity, but Orange held the Chargers to a single goal in the 5-minute span. After that Northwood could never seem to get the lead
By The Numbers
2: the biggest lead for either team.
26: shots for Orange, compared to 22 for Northwood
4: saves apiece for goalkeepers Eric Franklin of Northwood and Tyson Wolter of Orange.
29: ground balls for Orange in the helter-skelter game, compared to 22 for Northwood.
Three Who Counted
Zach Wright, Orange: Tuesday’s scoring, four goals and an assist on a goal by sophomore Sam Wilson, brought Wright’s season totals to 29 goals and 5 assists – both being team highs.
Payton Wilson, Orange: His unassisted goal with 5:20 left to play in the second quarter put Orange ahead 6-4 and prompted Northwood to use a timeout. He also scooped up a team-high 9 ground balls.
Jacob Bass, Northwood: The Chargers trailed much of the third quarter, down by as much as 7-5 at one point, before Bass scored an extra-man goal, unassisted, and later fed Riley Koch for a goal that tied the game at 7-7 with 8 minutes left to play.
They said it
“It was a circus. We gave it away with bad passes and bad decisions. ... It’s always a battle here at Orange. It’s always a close game,” Northwood coach Kevin McDaniel.
“That was a big-time goal. He’s a big-time scorer,” Orange coach David O’Neal, talking about Zach Wright.
“If we lose, we don’t go to states. This at least puts us in the running for states. This was a big win,” Zach Wright.