Cary, NC - Middle Creek came into their season finale with Apex on a 38 game winning streak and looking to sweep the visiting Cougars. Additionally, Senior Owen Caputo entered the night with 467 career points, just 5 shy of the North Carolina record according to LaxRecords.com.
The first quarter was a back and forth affair with both teams pressing match ups as hard as they could. Middle Creek struck first with a goal from Jimmy Slaight with just over 6 minutes to go in the first. Apex would tie it a few minutes later on an EMO goal from Alex Baker. Apex's Preston Lalicker made it 2-1 when he beat his man and scored.
The second quarter was mostly dominated by Middle Creek who three goals in 46 seconds to open up the lead to 6-2. Apex capitalized late in the quarter on EMO to cut the lead to 6-3. The Mustangs would foul again, but this time killed the penalty to prevent the Cougars from closing the gap further.
The third quarter scoring opened just 54 seconds in when Owen Caputo scored his second of the game. Followed by a David Baird goal less than a minute later, extending the Mustang lead to 8-3. The two would trade goals to end the 3rd and head into the final stanza with the Mustangs leading 9-4.
Middle Creek started with the ball due to having possession before a penalty expired. Baird would dominate the fourth quarter scoring all three of Middle Creeks goals. While Apex added a couple of their own it wasn't enough to pressure the Mustangs.
The big match up of the night was S. Stokes vs Owen Caputo. Stokes, with help, got the best of the match up in the first half, causing three turnovers and picking up a few groundballs. Overall Stokes and the Apex defense were able to limit Caputo to just 2g and 1a, leaving him three points shy of the record.
Middle Creek's Graham Schwartz went 20/21 at the faceoff X helping maintain possession for Middle Creek throughout much of the game. Defender Ben Lever was critical in holding Apex's Christian Cechini to limited touches on the offensive end as well, as he only had 2a, both on EMO.
The post season is next for defending champion Middle Creek. Apex will face Friendship on Friday, and if they win a coin toss for 2nd place in the SWAC with Holly Springs.
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