Behind a standout second-half defensive performance, the Northwood boy’s lacrosse team defeated rival Seaforth on Thursday night, 18-7. The victory extended the Chargers’ win streak to five games, strengthening their grasp on second place in the Mid-Carolina Conference behind Orange.
The Chargers (11-1, 7-1 Conf.) jumped out to an early-four goal lead after the inaugural quarter, but the Hawks (6-7, 5-5 Conf.) would claw their way back. Late in the first half, Seaforth netted its fifth goal of the night, an impressive mark considering how the Hawks’ previous tilts against Northwood have gone.
Across the two school’s first three contests against each other, Seaforth managed to score a combined 10 goals. Understanding the abnormally high amount of goals allowed in the first two quarters, Northwood head coach Randy Cox challenged his backline at the break.
“I told the defense to just be patient and play within ourselves, and to not go for the big check,” he said. “I wanted them to not be overly aggressive and to stay out of the penalty box.”
Out of the stoppage, Cox’s message appeared to resonate with the Chargers. Northwood dominated face-offs in the third quarter, opening the door for extended possessions on the Chargers’ attacking end.
Three minutes into the third period, senior attacker Jason Walden found himself behind the cage with room to work. The senior attackman spun his way inside near the crease, before rifling a goal into the bottom corner of the net.
Thirty seconds later, senior attacker Taylor Laberge joined in on the scoring act. Probing his way right of the cage, Laberge shifted by a looming Hawks defender and blistered a shot into the top right pocket, extending Northwood’s advantage to 12-5.
As the Chargers’ offense regained its stride, the Hawks failed to capitalize on their possession in the attack. Northwood’s defense appeared more connected, and the Chargers’ lone goal allowed in the period came late after Seaforth earned a man-up opportunity.
“One thing we’ve been trying to work on is playing really tight and having communication,” senior defenseman Taylor Zelhof said. “In the first half we didn’t talk and we got in our own heads.”
With its defense returning to status quo, Northwood ballooned its advantage to eight goals by the end of the third period.
Entering the final quarter with a sizable lead, the Chargers looked to stretch Seaforth out defensively. A pair of transition opportunities early in the period helped Northwood build a double-digit lead.
After an acrobatic save by first-year goalie James Flanagan, a trio of Chargers connected with each other across the field to eventually find junior midfielder Van Reese open for an uncontested finish. A little over a minute later, Zelhof scooped up a ground ball and darted towards the cage. The senior defenseman dished off to Laberge in the attacking end, but he got the ball back on a give-and-go and found himself all alone in front of the net.
“I thought that ball movement was probably some of the best ball movement I’ve seen all season, and it should be that way,” Cox said.
Zelhof’s second goal of the season stretched Northwood’s lead out to a dozen and earned the Chargers a running clock. The Hawks would net another man-up goal with less than three minutes remaining, but Northwood’s lead was too big to overcome.