CHAPEL HILL – The North Carolina High School Athletic Association’s sixth annual state lacrosse championships are scheduled for Friday and Saturday at the WakeMed Soccer Park in Cary, with classified championships in men’s play for the second consecutive year.
Because of the growth of the sport, there are now two men’s state finals, with the 4-A schools having their own championship and the 1-A, 2-A and 3-A schools competing with one another. The women’s championship is still an “open” tournament, with all classifications competing for a single crown.
The two men’s championships will be rematches of finals from last year. The program will open on Friday night at 7:35 p.m. as Apex (19-2) takes on Charlotte Catholic (20-2) in a battle of Cougar teams for the 4-A crown. Catholic scored an 11-8 triumph in last year’s state championship.
Apex is in the finals for the fourth time in the tournament’s six-year history and has an outstanding 21-4 mark all-time in NCHSAA lacrosse playoff action. Among Apex’s leaders are the Conference 3 Player of the Year, midfielder Chandler Besser (35 goals, 27 assists) and all-conference attackman Jack Hayden (46 goals, 43 assists).
Charlotte Catholic has an experienced team with seven players, including five seniors, who have committed to play collegiate lacrosse. Jackson Harris, a junior headed to Mercer, has 35 goals on the year as Catholic averages better than 12 goals a game.
The 1-A/2-A/3-A men’s final on Saturday afternoon at 4:05 is also a rematch as Raleigh Cardinal Gibbons (16-4) will battle Waxhaw Marvin Ridge (18-2). Gibbons won last year 11-8.
Gibbons started the year 2-4 against very tough opposition, but has reeled off 14 straight wins, and in their last 12 matches Gibbons averaged 17.3 goals per game to just 2.7 for their foes. Hunter Van Horn scored four goals for the Crusaders in their 19-5 victory over Hillsborough Cedar Ridge in the semifinals on Tuesday night.
Marvin Ridge has a well-balanced, fast-paced offense averaging over 14 goals a game and a tough defense allowing just four goals per contest. Jared Blum has tallied 38 goals to go with a team-high 34 assists and four other Mavericks have topped the 30-goal mark.
The women’s game is set for Saturday afternoon starting at 12:35 and is a battle between a couple of perennial lacrosse powers in Cardinal Gibbons (19-1) and Lake Norman (17-2). Both teams have been in the playoffs every year the NCHSAA has had them, with Lake Norman sporting a 14-5 all-time postseason record and Gibbons 11-5.
Carly Vaccaro of Lake Norman was Player of the Year in her conference and has tallied a whopping 81 goals to go with 36 assists. Jordan Lappin leads Cardinal Gibbons with 84 goals.
Tickets for the championship are eight dollars each. Parking at the facility is five dollars, and no outside food and beverage may be brought into the stadium. The games will be televised by Time Warner Cable.
NORTH CAROLINA HIGH SCHOOL ATHLETIC ASSOCIATION
6th ANNUAL LACROSSE STATE CHAMPIONSHIPS
WakeMed Soccer Park, Cary
FRIDAY, MAY 22
Men’s 4-A Championship, 7:35 p.m.
Apex High School Cougars (19-2) vs. Charlotte Catholic High School Cougars (20-2)
SATURDAY, MAY 23
Women’s Championship, 12:35 p.m.
Cardinal Gibbons High School Crusaders (19-1) vs. Lake Norman High School Lady Wildcats (17-2)
Men’s 1-A/2-A/3-A Championship, 4:05 p.m.
Marvin Ridge High School Mavericks (18-2) vs. Cardinal Gibbons High School Crusaders (16-4)