Middle Creek boys lacrosse holds off Weddington in the NCHSAA 4A state championship

·2 min read
Steven Worthy/newsobserver.com

Middle Creek attackman Tate Jones entered Saturday’s N.C. 4A men’s lacrosse state final with 90 goals. Jones, who will continue playing at Ohio State, waited 47 minutes, 50 seconds for his 91st goal, this one cementing the Mustangs’ 9-8 win over Weddington, and Middle Creek’s second state championship in the sport.

Jones converted a wraparound at the right post for the title-clincher that halted the Warriors’ four-goal scoring run with 10 seconds remaining. Middle Creek saw an 8-4 lead dissipate after Jayce Konowitz’s goal doubled the score with 2:30 remaining in the third quarter.

Five different Middle Creek players scored in the first half at Koka Booth Stadium. Mustangs midfielder Camden Young, assisted by Konowitz, gave the Mustangs a 3-2 advantage with 1:03 left in the first quarter. This conversion accounted for the lone two consecutive goals by either team in the opening stanza.

Middle Creek (23-2) built a 6-3 halftime lead, helped by Championship MVP Collin Patrick’s goal and three assists. Patrick closed the first half scoring, unassisted, with 1:59 on the clock. Patrick assisted James Cardillo’s goal that knotted the score at two, and assisted both of Breyden Harrison’s second quarter conversions.

Harrison scored 8:57 before halftime when the Mustangs held a one-player, one-minute advantage following a Weddington slashing penalty. Harrison fired the ball into the net again, 6:37 before the break.

The third Patrick-to-Harrison connection opened the third quarter’s scoring, and expanded Middle Creek’s lead to four goals at the 8:56 mark.

The teams exchanged the game’s first four goals, beginning with Weddington. Reid Cooper, assisted by Gabe Montognese, opened the scoring 1:59 into the contest. Middle Creek’s Jack Kovasala answered at the 6:41 mark.

Weddington (19-4) got three goals from Ryan Kazella, including the Warriors’ sixth and seventh scores with 4:55 and 3:16 remaining, respectively. Cooper knotted the score with 1:16 to play.

Middle Creek survived in part by suppressing the Warriors’ offense for nearly 12 first half minutes. Weddington scored its second goal with 3:49 left in the first quarter. The Warriors netted their third goal 3:55 before halftime.

Middle Creek and Weddington entered Saturday’s final riding 14-game winning streaks. Both schools won their first lacrosse state championships in 2017 in the 4A (Middle Creek) and 1A/2A/3A (Weddington) classifications.

Weddington, a three-time 1A/2A/3A state champion (including 2018 and 2019) and first-year 4A school, competed for its second 4A team championship Saturday. The Warriors won the boys’ basketball state championship last March.

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