The 2016 season came and went without a loss at home for the Cardinal Gibbons girls’ and boys’ lacrosse teams.
The Crusaders swept the N.C. High School Athletic Association East Regional championship games Tuesday night – the girls topping rival Wakefield 17-3 and the boys defeating Hoggard 13-6.
Both teams will compete for state championships at WakeMed Park in Cary on Saturday against West champ Lake Norman.
“This field is great, and not just because it’s turf, which is super,” Cardinal Gibbons senior Morgan Winstead said after the girls’ team stayed unbeaten overall at 21-0. “I came here in middle school and watched and it was always my dream to be on this field.”
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“We love playing on this field,” boys’ senior goalie Wesley Wagner said after recording 14 saves as the team improved to 19-2 overall. “We want to own it and protect it at all times.”
The girls’ squad will take on the Wildcats (18-4), a 20-10 winner over Charlotte Catholic (14-8), in the all-classification championship at 4 p.m., while the boys will take on Lake Norman (17-6), a 13-11 victor over previously unbeaten Northwest Guildford (23-1), for the 4A crown at 12:30 p.m.
To wrap up a second straight title-game appearance – falling to Lake Norman 17-15 in 2015 – Cardinal Gibbons put its foot on the gas and never let up.
The Crusaders scored four goals in the opening 2 minutes, 24 seconds.
Things looked slightly better for Wakefield (17-2) as it won the faceoff after a timeout, but quickly turned it over. Three minutes later, it was 8-0.
Wakefield’s Samantha Begin scored its lone first-half goal with 15:49 on the clock.
By halftime, three Crusaders had hat tricks – Jordan Lappin, Erica Skowron and Elizabeth Warren – and led 14-1.
“We just came out like we do,” said Lappin, who scored six goals. “Not starting out fast, that’s weird to us.”
Cardinal Gibbons goalie Gabby Young had five saves.
After claiming the 1A/2A/3A title the past two years, the Crusaders now get their first crack at a 4A championship.
Cardinal Gibbons launched out to a 3-0 lead before three minutes had elapsed and answered the Vikings’ first goal just 23 seconds later to go up 4-1.
Hoggard rallied and eventually tied it up at 4 on a fast-break score by Gunner Phillipp with 8:41 left in the second. Phillipp scored a hat trick.
Cardinal Gibbons wasted no time getting the lead back as Kevin Barry scooped up a loose ball in front of the net and slammed into the back of the net at the 7:58 mark.
After winning the faceoff, Crusaders coach Alex Buckley called a timeout.
“Hoggard is a very good team, and I think we had a lack of focus to start,” he said. “Friday, we were very, very focused (in a win over defending state champ Apex). So I took the timeout to say ‘Hey guys, take a breath and focus.’ And I think we did.”
The lead was 7-4 at the break.
Sophomore Adam Barry paced the Crusaders with five goals.