Rivals Apex and Cardinal Gibbons met in boys’ lacrosse for the first time in three years in the third round of the N.C. High School Athletic Association 4A playoffs on Tuesday. For the Crusaders, the game was worth the wait.
Thanks to a solid defensive performance and a fast start on offense, Cardinal Gibbons topped Apex 8-6 in a matchup of two of the triangle’s most historically successful programs, and now advances to Friday’s quarterfinals against Leesville Road.
Sophomore attacker Adam Barry and senior attacker Jack Shelton each scored three goals in the win for the Crusaders.
“Apex is very, very good and I think it was a battle from start to finish,” Cardinal Gibbons coach Alex Buckley said. “I feel for those (Apex) seniors on that team. As a senior, I lost my last game, I know how much that hurts. I’m really happy for our guys, but sad for those guys.”
Hoping to start off well on the road, Cardinal Gibbons (16-2) did just that as it opened the game with three consecutive goals in less than six minutes. The Crusaders’ ability to take an early lead would prove to be crucial.
“I think that really took their confidence away right away and got us going” Shelton said. “We had sort of a lull afterwards, but because we had that early run we could kind of afford it.”
Although Cardinal Gibbons never led by more than three goals, the Crusaders were able to dictate the flow of the game because of their play on defense and ability to control the faceoff battle as juniors Trevor Kirsch and William Domville combined to win 11 of the 18 faceoffs.
Apex (17-2) stuck around for most of the game, though. Back to back goals by freshman attacker Preston Lalicker and senior defenseman Tommy DeLuca cut the Crusaders’ lead down to one with over eight minutes remaining in the fourth quarter. That’s as close as Apex would get, however.
“I feel like we had looks throughout and we felt good as a couple started going down,” Apex coach John Hayden said. “We had some good chances down the stretch and just didn’t knock them home.”