Senior Daniel Hughey knew this could have been his last high school lacrosse game. Hughey had plenty of time to think about that when Athens Drive’s game against Broughton was delayed more than an hour due to lightning.
Hughey didn’t let the pressure affect him. Instead, he played some of his best lacrosse in the fourth quarter.
Along with goalkeeper Dane Peddicord, Hughey led the Jaguars to a thrilling 6-5 victory in the first round of the NCHSAA playoffs.
Hughey, an attacker, scored the game-winning goal with less than two minutes left on the clock.
Digital Access for only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
“This is insane,” said Hughey, who also had an assist. “We were fighting for our lives, and I know this is the last shot I have at a state championship.”
With the game tied, Hughey watched teammate Brandon Lohmiller steal the ball from the Caps. Lohmiller found Hughey wide open near midfield.
Hughey sprinted for the goal. A few Broughton defenders chased him, but he had a clear shot at the net.
“I knew that it if didn’t go in, they could get the ball and go up a goal,” Hughey said. “I just felt like that was the right time to go and take a shot.”
Hughey’s shot went past Broughton goalkeeper Austen Johnson and into the net, which caused the entire Athens Drive bench to erupt in celebration.
Though Broughton (13-2) never led, the Caps tied the game on four occasions.
Peddicord was a big reason the Jaguars (12-3) never trailed. Peddicord backstopped Athens Drive’s defense with eight saves, some of which he had to make in midair.
“(In high-pressure) situations, you hope your guys execute,” Athens Drive coach James Cornicelli said. “Dane stepped us huge for us.”
Peddicord’s most important save came after Hughey’s goal.
With 20 second remaining, Broughton advanced the ball down field. As time expired, Peddicord deflected Broughton’s attempt to send the game to overtime.
“I was just trying to communicate the best I could to keep everybody as tight as possible,” Peddicord said. “The last shot just dinged off the top of my head. It was a really nice shot and it would have gone in.”
Broughton responded early in the third quarter. Attacker Dane Angell leaped in the air to score his goal. Then, attacker Davis Weaver found attacker Justin Moore close to the net to tie the game at 2-2.
Just when it appeared the Caps had all the momentum, the officials delayed the game for an hour and 10 minutes.
Cornicelli didn’t say much in the locker room during the delay. One of the few things he told his team was that Carrboro, a lower seed than the Jaguars in the bracket, had defeated Durham Jordan 10-9 in double overtime.
The Jaguars returned to the field knowing a win against Broughton meant playing their second-round game at home. Hughey was glad Cornicelli gave the team the extra motivation.
“When we first heard that,” Hughey said, “it was a momentum boost for us.”
Other games: Holly Springs (10-7) and Wilmington Hoggard met for the third straight postseason, and for the third straight year it was a one-goal game. The Golden Hawks defeated host Hoggard 8-7, the same score and result in the 2010 playoffs. Holly Springs visited Millbrook on Tuesday in the second round.
Cardinal Gibbons (17-0) went up 14-0 at halftime and eased its way into the second round with a 17-1 victory against visiting Kill Devil Hills First Flight. The Crusaders then hosted defending East regional champ East Chapel Hill.
Apex (14-4) had no trouble with New Hanover, defeating the visitors 16-9 to set up a second-round road trip at Chapel Hill.