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Catholic boys’ lacrosse title cause for celebration

By Langston Wertz Jr.
lwertz@charlotteobserver.com

Charlotte Catholic’s boys’ lacrosse team won the N.C. 4A state championship Friday night in Cary, and Cougars coach Bo Turner, now in his 20th season, said the celebration was still going on well into Saturday morning.

“It was 2:05 (a.m.) and we were still going strong,” Turner said Saturday. “We had a lot of fun with kids and families. What a great way to end the season.”

Catholic (22-3) beat Apex 11-8 to deny Apex a second straight state championship. Catholic won its fifth state title, after winning championships in 2005, 2008, ’09 and ’12. Catholic senior attackman Connor Pool had three goals on eight shots and was selected as championship MVP.

The game was always close. It was 3-3 after the first quarter and 5-5 at halftime. Turner’s team got its biggest lead, 9-6, with 10 minutes, 12 seconds left after senior defenseman Ryan Beltrando took the ball end-to-end and scored. Apex scored twice over the next couple of minutes to close to 9-8 with 7:52 left.

That’s when Turner felt a strategy he’s employed all season came into play.

“I think it came down to our athleticism,” he said. “We’ve played this way all year long, pressing on defense and trying to get into our transition game, running and gunning. We don’t slow it down a lot. Yeah, we make some turnovers because of it, but we always try to put on the pressure. We’ve got a lot of athletes and hopefully, we’ll tire the other team out late in the third quarter and the fourth.”

Turner said that after Apex players became tired late, Catholic, No. 29 in MaxPreps national poll, was able to force turnovers that led to quick transition goals.

After Apex (19-3) trimmed the lead to one, Catholic scored twice in a 14-second span. Goals by sophomore Zak Butz and Robbie Wallon provided the winning margin.

Turner and his players got little sleep before heading to watch Catholic’s girls’ lacrosse team defeat Apex at noon Saturday in another state championship game. Turner said it was the kind of boys’ final that left him with lots of memories. During a makeshift pizza party that erupted in the team’s hotel lobby Friday night – and extended well into the wee hours of Saturday morning – Turner said it all began to hit him.

“I’m going to remember the players themselves,” he said. “I’ll remember the personalities. It was a tight group, a fun-loving group. We joked around and played so hard. They were so focused on wanting to get to that state championship.”

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