HILLSBOROUGH - Playing under its third head coach in four years, Chapel Hill High School lacrosse doesnt seem to have lost a step.
In what easily could have been a transition year, the Tigers have won seven of their first eight matches under head coach Brent Voelkel to get in front in their conferences regular-season race.
"Weve started out pretty well," CHHS co-captain Stephen Winsor said on the eve of a crucial conference match with Carrboro (7-4). "I personally have been pretty happy with how things have been going so far. I didnt expect us to start quite this well."Update: CHHS defeated Carrboro 7-3 Friday evening for the Tigers' seventh straight win. See Wednesday's Chapel Hill News for more on that game.
With half the N.C. High School Athletic Associations Conference 5 season done last week, Chapel Hill (7-1, 6-0) had at least one win in hand over each of its league rivals and was one-half game up on East Chapel Hill (7-4, 6-1).
Carrboro (7-5, 4-3) dropped another game back with its loss Friday to Chapel Hill.
CHHS completed its first circuit through conference play last Tuesday at Orange, coming away with an 18-6 victory. Much of the second half was played with a running clock, the norm in North Carolina high school lacrosse when one team gets ahead by 12 or more goals.
"We got to play a lot of guys and work on a lot of different things, which is nice," said Voelkel, an alum of the University of North Carolinas NCAA champions in the 1980s.
Voelkel was a two-year assistant at Chapel Hill under fellow UNC letterman and NCAA-winning coach Dave Klarmann, and he took over as head coach at CHHS in December. Klarmann had served as coach for two years after succeeding Bob Cappelletti.
Elsewhere Tuesday, East Chapel Hill bounced back from a loss to Conference 4 leader Jordan by blasting Northwood, 19-1, and Carrboro beat Cedar Ridge by a 12-4 score. One night later, the Jaguars thrashed Roxboro Community School 17-4. Friday night, East's Wildcats blew out Orange by an even bigger margin 19-2.
The Wildcats, off this week for spring break, won't play again until they host Chapel Hill on April 13.
The five wins over four days by CHHS, East and Carrboro deepened the divide between their conferences top teams and everyone else.
Led by Paul Whitfords three goals and three assists, a dozen Tigers tallied points at Orange. Paul Miller and freshman Colin Mraz also scored three goals, while Stephen Winsor and Mark Morton each scored twice.
Tommy Voelkel made one goal and assisted on three others. Tim Duffy, Conor Hendershot and Peter Norwood all had one goal and two assists. Hank Bolon added one goal, and Ryan Hegedus and Brett Buchman each had an assist.
Corey Silfen and Anders Haaland split time in the crease for CHHS and each came away with three saves.
Belied by the scoreboard, the Tigers seemed to play at a slower pace than expected of a team that rates in the states top 20 for goals per game (11.4), goals-defense (5.1) and net margin (6.3).
"We need to do a better job checking up on defense, and we need to do a better job finding the open man in transition," Brent Voelkel said. "We have good team speed, but sometimes we tend to slow it down a bit in transition."
Still, as expected, CHHS dominated in shots, and Oranges Adam Mclean made 21 saves.
Orange (1-7, 0-6) got a hat trick from Thomas Johnson, who also had an assist, while Tyler McAdoo, Thomas Doyle and Tristan Martin each got one goal.
Chapel Hill won the first four face-offs and jumped to a 4-0 lead in the games opening 4:54. Nine different Tigers scored in the first half, with Winsor, Morton, Whitford and Mraz each getting two goals before the break. CHHS led 10-1 midway through the second quarter before settling for a 12-3 lead at the half.
Paul Miller scored three times in the first six minutes of the second half, impelling the officials to set the clock running. Orange fought back with two goals by Johnson early in the fourth quarter to bring the clock back on-line before another goal by Whitford set it running again for the final 5:10 of the game.
"We improved from the start of the game to the end," Orange coach David ONeal said. "Fighting back was huge, absolutely huge for these guys. They have a lot of heart."