Middle Creek’s boys lacrosse team may be known for its offense, but the Mustangs reminded Wilmington’s Hoggard High on Friday that they play some pretty good defense as well.
In a performance that was dominant from start to finish, Middle Creek avenged last year’s overtime playoff loss to the Vikings as Jared Medwar, Tanner Patrick and Owen Caputo tallied four goals apiece in a 17-4 victory in a N.C. High School Athletic Association 4A fourth-round match.
Middle Creek (20-0), which had lost 11-10 in overtime to Hoggard in last year’s 4A fourth round, will meet Cardinal Gibbons in the 4A East Final on Tuesday.
“I think we did an excellent job in terms of learning all last year and learning through this year about situational lacrosse, how to come out fired up the right way,” Middle Creek coach Nick Holota said. “I thought we had a great week of practice, really good preparation … we learned a lot playing in that game last year and I think it motivated us.”
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Middle Creek seized control from the onset, scoring the match’s first seven goals, including five in the opening quarter.
Patrick got things going offensively when he scored off Medwar’s pass from behind the cage with 9 minutes, 26 seconds remaining in the first quarter. Jake Caputo made it 2-0 just over two minutes later with an unassisted goal, and Charlie Doetzer, Owen Caputo and Medwar followed with goals later in the quarter to produce a 5-0 lead.
Middle Creek ultimately put the match away in the third quarter. Up 8-2 at halftime, the Mustangs scored eight goals in the quarter – including two each from Owen Caputo and Patrick – to take a 16-2 lead. Ten of Middle Creek’s 17 goals were assisted as Hoggard (18-2) had no answer for the Mustangs’ movement and precision passing.
“We knew we had to come up big, it was like revenge for our team,” Owen Caputo said. “We’re really good when we’re moving the ball, we know they’re very good (defensively) so we really practiced that.”
Defensively, Middle Creek was equally impressive. Though Hoggard had some bad luck with three shots hitting the post, the Vikings found themselves smothered much of the evening in the Middle Creek zone, settling for low-percentage shots on those occasions when they actually were able to get a shot off.
Hoggard’s first goal didn’t come until 1:21 remained in the second quarter when Scout Philipp scored off an assist from Donovan Jones.
“Basically, we wanted to have no regrets coming out here, win or lose we wanted to leave it all on the field (Friday),” said senior defender Keith Phillips, among those most responsible for stifling Hoggard’s offense. “Coach has been saying how we’ve been prepared (defensively) for this game, I think being pushed in practice helps me prepare for going against some of the top guys.”
Andy Kotz, Luke Frankeny and Gunner Philipp added the other goals for Hoggard, which had its 11-match winning streak snapped.
“They played really well, you can’t anything away from that team,” Hoggard coach Steve Treman said. “Their defense is strong, much improved from last year. Top to bottom, they’re a great team. ... We did nothing right, but they forced us into some stuff and we didn’t show up.”