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NCHSAA championship: Charlotte Catholic 10, Apex 9

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Charlotte Catholic holds off Apex for 10-9 girls lacrosse state championship victory

By Tom Shanahan
Correspondent
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Greg Mintel - newsobserver.com
Charlotte Catholic senior Emma Jette, left, maneuvers past Apex senior Natalie Barton during the first half of Saturday’s Catholic victory. Toward the end, Jette made Catholic’s 10th goal of the game – an insurance goal that proved to be the margin of victory.

CARY Charlotte Catholic’s girls’ lacrosse team averted a third straight loss in the NCHSAA state championship match when the West Regional champion Cougars took the lead in a back-and-forth game.

“We knew we had to pick it up or we were going to get second place again,” said Catholic senior Emma Jette. “We knew that feeling and we didn’t want it again. We dug down deep.”

Catholic scored three unanswered goals in a two-a-half-minute stretch midway through the second half to pull out a 10-9 victory Saturday at WakeMed Stadium in the backyard of the Apex Cougars.

The East Regional champion Cougars had taken an 8-6 lead with 10:46 to play on a goal by junior Mia Castagnero, who was named the MVP with five goals and two assists.

But Catholic sophomore Natalie Italiano began to swing the momentum back when she scored with 8:19 remaining. Sophomore Kate Powell tied the match with 7:33 to play and junior Natalie Wallon scored for a 9-8 lead with 6:45 left on the clock.

Jette added an insurance goal that Catholic would need for a 10-8 lead with 3:50 to play.

Just 21 seconds later Castagnero’s fifth and final goal trimmed the deficit to 10-9. Catholic’s defense had to hold off two final shots from Castagnero. She hit the post with 2:40 remaining and goalie Michele Holmes made her fourth save of the day in the final minute. Holmes and first-half goal Annie Brannon combined for nine saves.

Jette and Powell led Catholic with three goals each. Italiano and Wallon added two each.

The Cougars’ title followed a state championship victory by the Charlotte Catholic boys’ team with Friday’s night’s win over Apex.

“It will be fun to go to school on Tuesday,” said Catholic girls’ coach Dee Bier, referring to Monday off for the Memorial Day weekend. “I’m so proud of this team. We pulled it out at the end.”

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