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Wakefield lacrosse drops out of second round

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RALEIGH — Wakefield’s boys lacrosse team had their 12-game win streak come to an end after losing to Cardinal Gibbons 13-7 on the road Tuesday in the second round of the 4A state playoffs.

This is the second year in a row the Wolverines lost in the second round of the playoffs. Wakefield finished the 2019 season 13-2 overall and 8-0 in NAC 6 conference play.

In their first round game Friday, May 3, Wakefield defeated Holly Springs 16-12. The Wolverines opened the match with a 3-0 lead, but then Holly Springs tied it up at 3-3 right before the end of the first quarter.

The second quarter belonged to Holly Springs. The Golden Hawks scored four unanswered goals to take an 8-4 advantage. Connor Pirrung’s goal cut the deficit to 8-5 with a minute and a half left in the first half.

During halftime, Wakefield head coach Derin Vacca told his players what they need to fix. It ended up working out in the second half.

“We pretty much hot-dogged in the first half,” Vacca said. “We played lazy and cocky after we got up by three goals. We got together and said that the only way we’re going to win is if we play hard. We had to get back to the fundamentals.”

It was a back and forth contest in the third quarter, but Holly Springs held a narrow 11-10 lead going into the fourth quarter. In the final period, Wakefield scored six unanswered goals to take a 16-11 advantage with 53 seconds left in the game.

Holly Springs punched in one more goal with 32 seconds left to make the score 16-12, but Wakefield held on for the rest of the game to come away with the victory.

Kevin Ritter was the player of the game for Wakefield. The senior led the Wolverines with five goals and two assists.

“In the first half, we weren’t playing how we normally play,” Ritter said. “It was weird for us to come out so slow. In the second half, everything started clicking and we had fun. Once we start having fun on the field, we don’t stop.”

Connor Pirrung also had a big game with four goals and two assists. Colby Lensing scored three goals and dished out one assist. Vacca said everyone played better in the second half, but Ritter stayed consistent throughout the night.

“Leadership and discipline was huge for Kevin tonight,” Vacca said. “He has come a long way. That’s what we need from our seniors.”

With the comeback win, Wakefield improved to 13-1 and kept their win streak going. Ritter said it was all thanks to his head coach for motivating the players at the right time.

“Coach Vacca told us to get our heads in the game and play our game,” Ritter said. “If we did what we were supposed to, things would fall into place. And that’s exactly what happened.”