East Chapel Hill’s 16-game winning streak and march to the boys lacrosse state championship game ended with a disappointing splat on a rainy Friday night.
The Wildcats fell to Weddington 20-6 in the 1A/2A/3A state championship played at Sahlen’s Stadium at WakeMed Soccer Park. Both East region champ ECH and the West region winning Warriors finished with 19-2 records.
“We had a fantastic season, but unfortunately the score tonight doesn’t reflect how hard these guys worked all season,” East Chapel Hill coach Dominic Koplar said. “They worked hard and deserved to be here. They weren’t individuals – they played for each other.”
Despite the final score, both teams started the match tactically, probing each other’s defense before selectively taking their first shot.
East Chapel Hill won the opening faceoff and poked the Warriors’ defense for two minutes before shooting. Weddington took possession and also prodded the Wildcats’ before shooting. In all, the teams combined for two shots in the first four minutes.
The game remained scoreless midway through the first quarter until some East Chapel Hill misfortune foreshadowed what soon turned into a long evening.
Weddington scored first off an own goal. A Warriors shot that hit the right post bounced off an ECH player in front of the goal and back into the net. Weddington’s Ryan Goldstein, who was the closest to the play, was credited with the goal.
The Warriors bumped their lead to 3-0 by the end of the first period with two goals from Anthony Todaro. The first was with 3:16 remaining in the first period and the second after an ECH turnover behind its own net was converted into a sprint up the field for a goal with 10 seconds left.
In the second period, the floodgates opened. Weddington added two more goals in the first 1:05 of the second period with tallies from Whitner Litton and James Shipley.
The Warriors kept building, heading to the locker room at intermission with a 12-2 lead.
“We were moving the ball well early,” Koplar said. “But then we had some defensive breakdowns. We didn’t see the ball well on the backside and had trouble.”
Weddington led 8-0 before East Chapel Hill found the net for the first time. Senior Taylor Greeno scored on an assist from sophomore Ryan Levy with 10:01 left in the second period. The Wildcats’ other second first-half goal was scored by junior Jack Koonce with an assist from Greeno with 44 seconds left before intermission.
For the night, Koonce and Levy finished with two goals each. Greeno and Noah Mills both scored one goal.
Once Weddington led 15-3 with 7:34 remaining in the third period, the mercy rule with a running clock was used.
Todaro, a sophomore, was named the Most Valuable Player. He finished with eight goals and three assists. Junior Eamon Murphy was next with four goals. In all, nine Warriors found the net.