He didn’t record any goals or assists, but Brendan Roess was arguably the most important player on the field during N&O No. 5 Green Hope’s 12-6 victory at home over No. 6 Holly Springs boys lacrosse.
The Green Hope senior won 14 of the 18 faceoffs he took – nine of 10 in the first half – and tilted the game into the favor of the Falcons. That much was evident by halftime.
Green Hope took a four-goal advantage into the break after dominating the possession for the first 24 minutes and played well enough in the second half to earn an important win.
“Brendan is a grinder,” Green Hope coach John Larkin said. “He’s a super tough kid, he’s very competitive and he came up huge for us.”
With the win, the Falcons protected their second-place spot in the SWAC standings from a surging Holly Springs team which had won four straight before Tuesday.
“Our guys came out of the gate fired up and were ready to go. We’ve turned the corner a little bit this season and we’re headed to the homestretch here,” Larkin said. “This was a big hurdle for us and we came out to play tonight.”
There were several beneficiaries of Roess’ ability to win faceoffs, as four Falcons (13-3, 9-2) scored multiple times, including senior attacker Nolan Paussa, who had a team-high four goals.
Green Hope led by as much as six and the Falcons ended the game on a 4-2 run after Holly Springs senior attacker Davis Ferguson scored to trim the Falcons’ lead down to four with four minutes left in the third quarter.
Ferguson led Holly Springs (10-4, 7-3) with two goals.
Holly Springs coach Doug Greenberg declined to comment.
Trailing 4-1 halfway through the second quarter, Holly Springs gained control of the possession and had a chance to cut into the deficit, but saw a shot hit off the post. Moments later Green Hope junior goalie Conor Ryan quickly distributed the ball up the field and sophomore attacker Aidan Callahan scored to put the Falcons ahead by four goals.
They said it
“It’s like playing basketball and having someone who’s eight-feet tall take a tip after every basket and you can just play make it-take it the whole time.” – Green Hope junior Brendan Roess on the importance of winning faceoffs.
Three to know
Brendan Roess, Green Hope: The faceoff specialist helped the Green Hope offense find its rhythm early on thanks to his ability to gain possession.
Nolan Paussa, Green Hope: Larkin said he liked the way his team played on offense and much of that had to with the play of Paussa. Consistent for the whole game, he scored a goal in each quarter.
Tucker Burkinshaw, Green Hope: Burkinshaw did a bit of everything for Green Hope as scored two of the Falcons’ first three goals, had three assists and showed his ability to chase down ground balls.
By the numbers
80%: Of faceoffs were won by Green Hope.
6-1: Green Hope’s record at home.
6: Combined goals by the two teams in the third quarter, the game’s highest scoring period.
Burkinshaw’s second goal produced a big applause from the home crowd as the senior scored on a behind-the-back shot right in front of the net.
Feeling the impact
In the Southwest Wake’s split-division format, this game helped decided the conference’s No. 3 and 4 seeds. Apex has already locked up the No. 1 and Middle Creek the No. 2. The fifth and final automatic bid in next week’s playoffs will go to the season finale winner between Panther Creek and Athens Drive.