May 24, 2014
It was déjà vu all over again at WakeMed Soccer Park. A day after the Charlotte Catholic men’s team won the N.C. High School Athletic Association 4-A state championship against Apex High School, the women’s teams from both schools met and produced similar results.
In a highly-entertaining game, Charlotte Catholic survived a late surge by Apex to secure a 10-9 victory and the weekend sweep of Apex Saturday.
Just like the men’s title game, Apex (17-2) earned an edge in face-offs and owned a bulk of the time of possession, but was limited to just three goals in the second half due in large part to the active stick-checking of Charlotte Catholic (23-1).
“To only score three goals in the second half is not enough to beat a team like Catholic,” said Apex coach Mike Baganasco. “We just ran out of steam. I would say it’s more about Charlotte for hustling back and taking it away from us every time.”
Trailing 8-6 in the final 10 minutes, Catholic came alive for three goals – in the span of just 78 seconds – to take its first lead since the 12:52 mark of the first half. Moments later, Catholic’s Emma Jette forced a turnover, went coast-to-coast to score the game-winning goal with 3:50 to go.
However, Apex junior midfielder Mia Castagnero and the Cougars didn’t go away quietly. Dominant in face-offs, Castagnero netted a controversial, unassisted marker with a foot in the crease, but it was ruled that she was pushed and the goal was allowed to trim the deficit to one inside of three minutes left.
Castanegro, who was named the game’s most valuable player in a losing effort, kept on coming – she won the ensuing faceoff and rang a potential-equalizer off the crossbar, then, while her team was short-handed, recorded a groundball behind her own net in the final minute, but a charge was called on attacker Erin Cornell with under 30 seconds remaining to seal their fate.
“I think you’ve got to let the kids play and not call a charge there on Erin,” said Bagnasco.
Castanegro had a hand in each of Apex’s three goals in the second half en route to a game-high five goals, two-assist performance.
Fellow junior Annie Brannon started the game in goal for Charlotte Catholic and stopped five shots in the first half. Then, just as she has done all season, Head Coach Dee Bier turned to Holmes for the final 25 minutes and the senior came through; booking four saves.
“Eventually, I hoped that one would outplay the other, but they were both playing pretty solid all throughout the season, so that was our system and we were going to stick with it today too,” Bier said.
Catholic leaned on sophomore attacker Kate Powell for most of its offense, who scored a team-best three goals and collected a pair of assists as well.
Three other Catholic Cougars turned in multiple goals; Jette, Natalie Italiano and Natalie Wallon, whose brother scored a goal in the men’s championship for Catholic. Apex’s Meredith Chapman and Abby Flynn each had two goals apiece.
This is Charlotte Catholic’s second state title since the NCHSAA sanctioned the school’s lacrosse programs. The other championship was in 2010.
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