June 9, 2013

All Carolina at US Lacrosse Boys' Southeast Championships

By Paul Krome | LaxMagazine.com | Southeast Championships

Zachery Hutchko scored three first-quarter goals to lead Carolina Lite to a 13-0 victory over New Jersey South in the U15 gold medal game of the US Lacrosse Southeast Championships, powered by Lacrosse Unlimited, Sunday at the WRAL Soccer Center.
©BJ Dworak

RALEIGH, N.C. – Domination, drama, and a double-up highlighted the final day of the US Lacrosse Boys' Southeast Championships, powered by Lacrosse Unlimited and, after U15, U13 and U11 teams from North Carolina swept the gold medals today at the WRAL Soccer Center, the only question remained was how the region's best U15 team would fare against those from around the country.

We may find out next month.

Top-seeded Carolina Lite (N.C.) cruised through the U15 division, capturing the title with a 13-0 defeat of sixth-seeded New Jersey South. The Durham-based team surrendered just six goals in five games and earned an automatic invitation with free registration to the US Lacrosse U15 National Championship, powered by Lacrosse Unlimited, July 26-28 at ESPN Wide World of Sports in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. Carolina Lite emerged from a 14-team bracket that included several in-state rivals.

"It's definitely rewarding," said Carolina midfielder Tristen Copeland, who had two first-half assists in his team's gold medal win. "All the hard work in practice and giving 100 percent each day – it paid off in the end."

Zachery Hutchko tallied a hat trick in the first quarter, including back-to-back markers courtesy of feeds from Peter Pittroff and Rob Wallon, respectively, with about two minutes left in the frame to put the locals ahead, 6-0. Earlier, Hutchko and Pittroff scored three goals apiece to lead Carolina Lite to a 13-1 win over fifth-seeded Triad Elite (N.C.) in the semifinals.

"Sometimes I wish I faced more shots, but I can't complain," said goalie Grant Portwood, who began his lacrosse career as an attackman in the second grade and interrupted it, briefly, to try baseball. "It's cool to win the championship."

New Jersey South, bronze-medalist Winston Salem and semifinalist Triad Elite also received automatic invitations to the national championship. The field for that event will be finalized following the other three US Lacrosse regional championships this month. As many as 32 teams will compete in Orlando.

New Jersey South reached the final by edging Winston-Salem, 6-5, in the other semifinal. Dylan Tocco scored four goals and Mark Kolmer made nine saves in the second half.

The drama came courtesy of the U13 championship game and also at the expense of New Jersey South, which earned the top seed in that flight following pool play. The third-seeded Carolina Cannons (N.C.) jumped ahead early, hung on as Jersey rallied, and eventually sealed a 12-9 win in a back-and-forth fourth quarter.

Owen Caputo scored twice to help the Carolina Cannons win the U13 championship, 12-9, over New Jersey South.
©BJ Dworak

Jake Caputo scored four goals, three in the first half, but it was Tommy Weir's second of the day with 1:29 to play, on a feed from Owen Caputo, that provided the final margin. Goalie Riley Myer stuffed New Jersey's Benjamin Cantwell on the crease, despite several fakes, seconds later, and the Cannons hung on. New Jersey South had pulled to within 7-6 at halftime and to 10-8 with 4:47 to play on an extra-man goal by Cantwell, Caputo's final tally restored a three-goal margin with 2:30 remaining.

Carolina midfielder Connor Kocis nearly ended the drama 30 seconds later, but diminutive goalie Darin Holmes made a big save to get New Jersey the ball back, leading to a goal by Matt Calleri on the other end. Holmes' stop was even more impressive given he had left the fourth quarter briefly after appearing to take a shot to the gut.

"We have some kids from Durham, from Wake County and from Chapel Hill," said Cannons head coach Sam Carpenter. "We played earlier today and I thought we might have been a bit gassed, but the kids rose to the occasion. It was good stuff. Riley made a huge save, and we hung on. We basically just hung on."

In the U13 semifinals, Zachary Cole and Trevor Jones each scored two goals to lift New Jersey South to a 10-5 win over fifth-seeded Ironclads Blue (Va.). Chad Osborne exploded for five goals in the Carolina Cannons' 17-8 win over second-seeded C2C Raleigh (N.C.) in the other semifinal. Van Parker had four goals in defeat for Raleigh.

The Cannons program completed a double play when its U11 team won its second straight US Lacrosse Southeast Championship, this time with a 12-8 win over the Ironclads (Va.). Griffin Cooling and Ryan Levy each had a hat trick, and Kevin Ritter and David Sohn scored two goals apiece for Carolina. River MacMillan scored twice for the Virginians.

The US Lacrosse Central Championships are up next weekend in Madison, Wis.


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