Published: May 16, 2012 12:57 PM
Modified: May 16, 2012 12:58 PM
Chapel Hill and Athens Drive hadn’t met in boys lacrosse since 2007. But the Jaguars knew plenty about their opponents in the N.C. High School Athletic Association state playoffs last week.
Passed over for the head coaching job at East Chapel Hill when that job came open last summer, former Wildcat assistant coach Jacob Manning accepted the post as defensive coordinator at Raleigh Athens Drive this spring.
East Chapel Hill swept CHHS last year with Manning’s defense, holding the Tigers to six and five goals, two of their lowest scoring games in 2011. Friday night at Culton-Peerman Stadium, Athens Drive stymied Chapel Hill at the crease and held the Tigers to their lowest scoring total in 34 games.
Athens Drive dominated in time of possession and out-shot Chapel Hill 31-18, taking a 6-4 win over the Tigers in the NCHSLA state quarterfinals.
"The strength of that Athens Drive team is their defense," Chapel Hill coach Brent Voelkel said. "Their long sticks are very, very good. When you try to force balls inside, they knock them down."
Chapel Hill (15-4) was held this year to single digits only three times before Friday, and it won two of those matches.
"It was a real battle. Our guys played out of their minds," said Athens Drive goalkeeper Dane Peddicord. "Especially Cam (Davis). "The amount of nuggets he got — that was amazing."
The Jaguars fed all night on nuggets — loose balls or passes intercepted around the crease. Athens Drive picked up 22 Chapel Hill turnovers and committed just 11.
Chapel Hill suffered a huge setback when it lost its leading scorer, Paul Whitford, to an injury in the first 10 minutes of play. But the Tigers still scored first on a Paul Miller shot off an assist from Stephen Winsor 7:45 into the game.
Chapel Hill led for the last time at 2-1 after the first of two unassisted goals from junior Tommy Voelkel.
Weeks of physical play in what may be North Carolina’s most competitive conference in boys lacrosse prepared Athens Drive for a comeback. After going 1-3 in the regular season against Conference 2 rivals Cardinal Gibbons and Apex, Athens Drive (14-3) never lost its cool.
"We may not have the greatest stick skills in North Carolina, but we’re disciplined," Athens Drive coach James Cornicelli said. "We didn’t try to be something we’re not. We just played our game."
Two goals apiece from junior Jake Hargrove and Daniel Hughey, the Jaguars’ leading scorer this season, matched the Tigers’ total output Friday.
Junior Jake Hargrove scored twice in the second quarter and sophomore middie Scott Baird added a goal as Athens Drive grabbed a 3-2 lead by halftime, putting Chapel Hill behind for the first time in the playoffs. Daniel Hughey scored twice in the third quarter to help finish off the Tigers.
Hughey’s second goal put Athens Drive up 5-2 with 6:47 left in the third. Chase Jenkins scored in transition off a long pass from defenseman Cam Davis to push the lead to 6-2 with 4:04 left in the third quarter.
Athens Drive switched gears in the final quarter, drawing three stall warnings from the officials. The team but still managed to outshoot the Tigers 8-4 in the final 12 minutes.
Chapel Hill’s Tim Duffy scored an extra-man goal with an assist from Winsor to cut Athens Drive’s lead to 6-3 with 32 seconds to go in the third quarter.
Voelkel’s second goal, with 1:47 remaining in the game, was too late to thwart an Athens Drive team that ran the clock effectively.
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