The inaugural Green Hope-Panther Creek “Fight for 55” rivalry day billed as Super Saturday also turned out to be a parade of colors.
Fans of all ages wearing Green Hope’s green and maroon colors and Panther Creek fans dressed in powder blue and black were joined by athletes representing the schools rotating between venues for the five-ring circus on the Panther Creek campus.
The day began with JV competition at 9 a.m. and continued with girls lacrosse as the first varsity event at 2:30 p.m. in the football stadium. The boys lacrosse game followed girls lacrosse, baseball and softball were played on diamonds on the other side of campus and the event concluded under lights with girls soccer at the football stadium.
All the teams met for the second time this year in Southwest Wake Athletic Conference competition, but somehow this was, well, super.
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“It felt more important,” said Green Hope girls lacrosse player Alicia Brunetti, who scored six goals in the Falcons’ 17-10 victory. “There were more people around with so many teams competing. We wanted to win to get that point for Fight for 55.”
Green Hope won four of the five sports Saturday to clinch the “Fight for 55” competition that began with fall and winter sports. The Falcons hold a 19-12 lead with only four sports to be decided: boys and girls track and field, boys golf and stunt.
Panther Creek athletics director L.J. Hepp first thought of the Super Saturday idea following Panther Creek baseball’s participation in a baseball festival at Leesville Road. He met with Green Hope athletics director Colin Fegeley, and they came up with the idea with a spring sports festival between the rival schools only 2.4 miles apart on N.C. Highway 55.
The “Fight for 55” rivalry campaign grew out of the spring sports festival idea. When Chick-fil-A doubled its sponsorship, they ADs moved ahead. The sponsorship includes four $1,000 scholarships. A boy and a girl representing each school will be selected as recipients.
“It’s a great opportunity to reach out to the communities representing our schools,” Hepp said. “So many of our kids know each other from the attending the same middle school (before enrolling at one of the two high schools) or from playing on the same youth teams or club teams.”
Next year Green Hope will host Super Saturday. Boys tennis and stunt may be added next year if the schedules can be worked out. Track and field is problematic since Saturdays are important to the sport with weekly invitational meets (Panther Creek and Green Hope both participated in NCRunners Elite Invitational Saturday at Green Hope), but a JV track meet has been considered. Golf, of course, can’t be staged on a high school campus.
“After next year we’ll get feedback from our coaches, kids and parents and decide about continuing it,” Hepp said. “Our boosters have been great. We couldn’t have done it without so many volunteers. We’ve had some parents that have been here all day.”
The athletes, though, have already cast affirmative votes.
“It was definitely a great atmosphere,” said Panther Creek softball pitcher Cassidy Somers, echoing other athletes. “We had a lot bigger crowd than we usually do. It was great to see so many people cheering you on.”
Green Hope 17, Panther Creek 10: In addition to Brunetti, three other Falcons tallied multiple goals. Rachel Argabright scored four, Allie Winiecki three and Trisha Scott three. Meghan O’Mara added one goal.
For Panther Creek, Abbi Pagano scored four goals, Madison Brown two and Megan Collins two. Grace Lee and Claire Reist added one each.
Green Hope 17, Panther Creek 0: Green Hope senior Dana Kelly was among the Falcons scoring multiple goals. Junior goalie Conor Ryan recorded the shutout.
“The rivalry is always great,” Kelly said. “Everybody could watch the different games. Every team supported each other.”
Panther Creek 4, Green Hope 1: Somers salvaged the day for the Catamounts with 11 strikeouts, three hits and zero earned runs.
Panther Creek shortstop Sarah Aukamp as 2-of-4 with two runs scored, catcher Rachel Johnson 2-of-3 with one RBI and freshman Corrine Somers 1-2 with a run scored and an RBI.
For Green Hope, Emily Wynne singled in the first inning, but Somers only allowed one single to Savannah Harrison until Gail McColgan singled in the seventh.
Green Hope 6, Panther Creek 5: Panther Creek rallied with three runs in the bottom of the sixth inning, but the Falcons held on for the win. Green Hope sophomore Connor Knapp was 3-of-5 with one run scored. Mitch Spence was 2-of-3 with an RBI.
“I hope we play it every year,” Knapp said. “PC is our rival, and it’s always fun to beat them.”
Coleman Barnacascel and Ben LaSpaluto doubled for the Catamounts.
Green Hope 2, Panther Creek 1: Bailey Petersen and Kacie Mollin gave the Falcons a 2-0 lead and Devin D’Agostin scored for the Catamounts just before halftime.
“It’s an awesome feeling to beat Panther Creek,” Petersen said. “This is the best feeling I’ve had in high school.”
Panther Creek had a chance to tie the game in the final two minutes on a direct kick from the right side, but Falcons freshman Izzy Brown cleared the ball away with a header.