Middle Creek gets late goal to slip by Weddington in NCHSAA lacrosse championship game, 9-8

Cary, NC – Middle Creek was dominant early but needed a last-minute goal to overcome a late surge by Weddington and capture the program’s second State Championship by a score of 9-8.  Tate Jones took 14 of Middle Creek’s 44 shots, but only his final one found the back of the cage as he wrapped around the front of the net and slammed a shot home over the outstretched net of the Weddington keeper with just 10 seconds remaining to put his Mustangs back in front.

NCHSAA 4A Lacrosse Champion Middle Creek. (photo by Gene Galin)

Weddington jumped out to the early lead in thanks to a goal at 10:01 to go in the first quarter from Reid Cooper on a nice feed by Gabe Montognese, one of two goals on the afternoon for Cooper. But Middle Creek outshot the Warriors in the first quarter 13-4 and got a goal to tie it from Jack Kovasala midway through the period.

 Weddington’s Michael Cooper added a tally for the Warriors at 3:49 to go in the first, but Middle Creek ran off the next four markers, including two by Breyden Harrison off beautiful feeds from Collin Patrick, to take a 5-2 lead. Patrick was a key cog in the Mustang attack, scoring a goal and picking up four assists on his way to being selected as the game’s Most Valuable Player.

The two teams traded goals in the final minutes of the first half to head to the break at 6-3 in favor of the Mustangs, but the Mustangs opened their second half account with another Harrison goal from Patrick at the 8:56 mark of the third to go up four. The two teams traded goals to end the third, but opening the fourth, Weddington poured on the pressure and scored four straight to tie the game at eight with just 1:05 to go. 

Dane Johnson had the opening goal of the quarter for Weddington on another Montognese helper, then Ryan Kazella scored a pair at the 4:55 and 3:16 mark to put the Warriors within one. The game’s opening goal scorer, Reid Cooper, netted his second of the day to tie the game at 1:05 to go off a deflected feed from Michael Cooper.

Weddington finished the season 19-4. The Warriors were Regional Champions for the first time in program history at the 4A Level, returning to the State Championship match for the first time since winning three straight 1A/2A/3A State Championships from 2017 to 2019.

Middle Creek wrapped up the year 23-2. The Mustangs won the Eastern Regional title for the second time in program history, returning to the State Championship for the first time since defeating Lake Norman in the 2017 4A Championship Game.