High School Sports

Graci Fulkerson’s 8 points lead Apex past East Chapel Hill

Apex's Tess Meurling (3) runs with the ball while East Chapel Hill's Sasha Bull (6) defends during a high school lacrosse game in Apex, N.C. on Monday, March 7, 2016.
Apex's Tess Meurling (3) runs with the ball while East Chapel Hill's Sasha Bull (6) defends during a high school lacrosse game in Apex, N.C. on Monday, March 7, 2016. newsobserver.com

Apex stayed undefeated in its first test of the season, riding an 11-goal first half to a 14-11 victory against visiting East Chapel Hill on Monday night.

After the teams found themselves knotted up 2-2 to open the evening, the Cougars (2-0, 1-0) went on an 8-2 run led by Graci Fulkerson, who put up two goals and three assists in that span.

Freshman Ellie Bromley also got off to a hot start, scoring four of the Cougars’ first six goals.

The Wildcats closed out the half one a 3-1 run to keep things interesting, the last two coming from Lena Johnson.

East’s Reily Reed opened the second half with a goal, but that was the last of the high-octane offenses fans at Apex saw in the first half as the two sides combined for only eight goals to close things out.

Apex’s Carrie Studdard had seven saves in the second half to clinch the Cougars’ second consecutive win.

“It was very nerve-wracking because with eight meter shots, you sometimes have no clue where the ball is going,” Studdard said. “But it was nice having my whole teammates there talking me up and helping me. Our defense being on the ball when they shot, too, helped make it easier to predict where the shot was going as well.”

Heading into a tough stretch of games featuring trips to Chapel Hill and Green Hope and hosting of Broughton and Middle Creek, the Cougars are grateful to have gotten some of their younger players time against a quality opponent.

“We he had a lot of freshmen and sophomore starters, so there was a lot of errors that came down to game experience. As the year goes on, we’ll clean those up,” Apex coach Mike Bagnasco said.

The Wildcats dropped to 1-2, but have run the gantlet against some of the most competitive teams in the area, something that coach Emily Sternbach believes will work to her team’s favor in the long run.

“We have a lot of things we need to finish; we had a lot of good attempts at goal and ground balls,” Sternbach said. “Any game experience is good. What’s important is learning from what we’ve done wrong, even if it’s a loss, recognizing ‘why did we lose?’ and ‘what can we do better next time?’ when it counts.”

Turning point

Already holding a 7-3 lead, Apex scored three straight goals to cap off a 5-0 run after illegal check and illegal substitution penalties rendered the Wildcats a man down for three minutes. Fulkerson, Kristen Maseli and Mia Weigmann each scored extra man on goals with ease.

They said it

“Playing (East) as our second game was extremely important because after the first game we started practicing like we won 22-4 and I tried to tell them that they cannot do that,” Bagnasco said. “This game showed us how good we can be when we get on a roll, but also that we need to get better.”

Three to know

Graci Fulkerson, Apex: Fulkerson led all scorers with five goals and also flashed her ability to feed the crease with three assists.

Carrie Studdard, Apex: Studdard notched 12 saves, seven of which came in the second half as the Wildcats amped up the pressure on offense.

Reily Reed, East Chapel Hill: Reed finished with four goals, including the one that snapped Apex’s goal streak that started to give the Wildcats momentum heading into halftime.

By the numbers

2: Apex players left over from the team that made the state final two years ago.

6: Girls to score for Apex.

16: Goals scored by East’s Lena Johnson in only three games.

3: Games in five days for the Wildcats.

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