South Charlotte

2nd-straight title is coach's sweet farewell

The N.C. Independent Schools Athletic Association girls' lacrosse championship was the last game for the 10 seniors on the Charlotte Country Day team.

It also was the last for coach Ed Burnam.

After helping start the girls' lacrosse program five years ago, Burnam, 52, is moving to Singapore this summer with his wife, Nancy, who works for IBM and was relocated there.

With a dominating 20-9 victory against Durham Academy at home, the Country Day (14-4) players sent Burnam off with a second-straight state championship.

"It makes this championship even more exciting as a win because we want to send him off on a good note to Singapore, and I know he's so happy right now," said senior Hastings Wilson after the game.

"It's an emotional thing; it's great," said Burnam about the win. The players "wanted to do that for us."

After the game on May 21, parents and players approached Burnam, thanking him for everything he had done for the team.

Burnam was there from the beginning, as an assistant coach for girls' lacrosse team in 2006 when it started as a club team. The club went 1-15 that first year. The next year, girls' lacrosse became an official varsity sport, and Burnam was asked to be head coach.

In 2008, when the sport first was sanctioned by the NCISAA, Country Day went 14-3 and lost in the championship game to Durham Academy, the Buccaneers' only loss to an NCISAA school in three years. In 2010, the Bucs won their first championship 14-12 against Ravenscroft.

Burnam, who this year won Country Day's Carl Bolick Award - named after the schools first athletic director - said this year's win was great for the seniors who have helped build the program.

"It was huge for them to get this on their own," he said. "They're a very good team and they work hard."

The Bucs didn't waste any time in the championship game, scoring two goals in the first minute and jumping out to a 8-0 lead in the first half.

"They've done that on almost all of the opponents that they really come out and go after," said Burnam. "I told them, 'It's important to get them right away because it's hot; you don't want to be struggling at the end of the game.'"

Country Day beat Durham Academy in transition, moving quickly down the field with crisp passes that led to easy goals.

The Bucs took a 14-4 lead into the half and had no problem holding onto the win.

Seven players from the team were named to the NCISAA all-state team after the game: seniors Stevie Thomas, Meera Clark, Lane Merlo, Wilson, Mangan, Brittan Lynch and Bella Lovett. But the star was Wilson, who scored a game-high six goals in the championship.

"In a team with a lot of stars, to be someone that kind of stands out like that, that's great," said Burnam.

Next year, Country Day will go for its third state title - without Burnam, who said he hopes longtime assistant Kristy Boyles will take over.

"She's one of the top coaches in North Carolina, and I believe the program would be best served under her continued leadership," Burnam said in an email.

Wilson said the team will miss Burnam next season but that they hope to see him around school in the future.

"We're so happy for him and glad that he's going to start a new life in Singapore, but we want to have him come back soon," she said.