Apex’s Ryan Campbell and Preston Lalicker won faceoff after faceoff during a run that Middle Creek couldn’t overcome. The Cougars’ boys lacrosse team defeated the Mustangs 13-11 on the road Thursday night to take sole possession of first place in the Southwest Wake Athletic Conference.
Apex won 23 of the game’s 28 faceoffs (82.1 percent).
“It was pretty surprising,” Campbell said of his team’s lopsided faceoff success. “So much stuff can happen like missing a groundball or (a faceoff violation).”
While its offense struggled to find a rhythm at times, having constant possession came up big for the Cougars, particulary in a 6-0 run that changed the game.
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Apex (7-0, 6-0) and Middle Creek (7-1, 5-1) were tied 4-all with three minutes until halftime, but Apex took a 6-4 lead into the break and went up 10-4 with 6:49 left in the third quarter.
“These (Middle Creek) guys are freakish, so to have the ball is everything,” Apex coach John Hayden said. “It was faceoffs, and the ball movement ... One of those possessions, we’ll look back at it and it’ll be one of the best possessions we’ve had all year.”
They said it
“I think we were prepared coming in knowing that they had some really good draw guys and some physical faceoff guys. I thought we started to figure out some things towards the end, but maybe it was just a little too late,” first-year Middle Creek coach Nic Holota said.
Three to know
Ryan Campbell, Apex: Faceoff man also had his first career hat trick.
“I think we slowed them down, just got Middle Creek not balanced. We got our matchups, found opportunities and scored,” Campbell said.
Owen Caputo, Middle Creek: The sophomore had three highlight-reel goals (and one assist), as did younger brother Jake.
Christian Cechini, Apex: Freshman had two goals during the 6-0 run.
By the numbers
3: Goals scored by Apex’s Alex McClure.
2: Goals scored by Apex’s John Lemoine and Middle Creek’s Jared Medwar.
1: Goals scored by Apex’s Lalicker, Justin Freeman (added one assist) and John Hayden (three assists) as well as Middle Creek’s Ryan Macri, Charlie Doetzer (two assists) and J.J. Tolentino. Connor Monroe added one assist.
Feeling the impact
The victory has big implications in the 10-team Southwest Wake Athletic Conference (Pinecrest is a lacrosse-only member). Apex has already defeated Green Hope 10-9 in overtime and Middle Creek beat Green Hope 12-11 earlier in the week.
The SWAC is split into A-B divisions this year, and the Cougars are atop A. Middle Creek leads B, and the head-to-head victory could give Apex the upperhand for the top seed out of the conference come May.