It’s not uncommon for the Southwest Wake Athletic Conference boys lacrosse title to come down to Apex and Middle Creek, which it has the last three seasons. For that reason, Middle Creek’s 16-7 win at Apex on Friday carries a bigger meaning.
Now two games up on Apex and one over Green Hope, which Middle Creek defeated 19-5 on Tuesday, the Mustangs are distancing themselves from the pack in the standings and scoreboard.
Apex could have forced a three-way tie for first place in the Southwest Wake Athletic Conference with the win. Middle Creek and Apex shared the title in 2015 and 2014, and Apex won it outright last season.
“We’ve really just got to keep the guys humble,” Middle Creek defender Keith Phillips said. “If we’re just going to be satisfied with going 8-0 we can all go home right now, we can quit the season, but that wasn’t our goal to start out the season.”
Middle Creek (9-0, 8-0) was led in goals by Owen Caputo (four goals, six assists), Tanner Patrick (four goals), Jake Caputo (three goals, one assist) and Jared Medwar (three goals, one assist).
Winning at the faceoff X was big for the Mustangs.
“We started to use both of our faceoff guys,” Middle Creek coach Nick Holota said. “From there it was just trying to go in hard on the wings. Early in the game we were worried about giving fast breaks but then we said ‘Let’s just go get this loose ball.’”
Middle Creek led 8-4 at halftime but increased that lead to 15-6 by the end of the third quarter. At one point, the Mustangs scored three goals in 33 seconds.
Apex (5-2, 5-2) scored on goals from Matt Atheshian, Carter White, Christian Cechini (one goal, one assist), Preston Lalicker (three goals) and Justin Freeman (one goal, one assist). Nick McCluskey added an assist.
Apex coach John Hayden said he is optimistic about his young team despite the loss.
“We found out a lot today. We’re going to have great film,” Hayden said. “I didn’t see one kid put his head down, point a finger at somebody. They kept battling and working through it. We’re going to learn a lot from this.”