CARY — Apex seniors Luke Sieber and Derek Sweet recalled when they were freshman, fantasizing about what it would be like to team up to score the game-winning goal with 1 second left to lead the Cougars to a boys lacrosse state title.
Fantasy became reality Saturday at WakeMed Soccer Park, as Sweet scored from close range off a pass from Sieber with one tick left to give Apex a 12-11 come-from-behind victory over defending N.C. High School Athletic Association champion Lake Norman.
It was the Cougars (20-2) first NCHSAA boys lacrosse title.
Im still in shock, to be honest; that was the craziest thing, said Sweet, who will play at Robert Morris this fall. After I set the pick, they were going to double Luke and he found me and put it right to my stick, it was perfect.
Luke and I have talked about this for four years, and we knew exactly what we were going to do.
Sieber, who scored twice and added three assists, and Sweet, who had four goals, are not the tallest players; Lake Normans defenders were much larger and forced both to adjust.
That last play was the only one we drew up which went our way, but its the only one that mattered, said Sieber, who will play at Lynchburg (Va.) College in the fall. There were times when we were getting our butts whipped, but no one on this team ever stopped. (Lake Norman) was physical with us, and we hadnt really faced a team like that all year.
Apex trailed 8-3 early in the third quarter but went on a 4-1 run to end the period. Sieber said the transition goals teammates Ryan Sullivan and Colby Lalicker scored were key to changing momentum. Sullivan and Lalicker, who dominated the faceoffs in the second half, each finished with three goals.
Apex junior Tyler Nesbitt recorded 14 saves and was voted game MVP.
It was two great teams, and it was less Xs and Os than just a lot of effort, Apex coach John Hayden said. The kids stayed with it and put us in position going into the fourth. Weve won a lot of different ways, but this was something else.
Tyler made a lot of saves, he just knows how to get in the way of the ball, and hes fearless.
Hayden said the Cougars turned things around in the third when they started getting comfortable with the ball and not committing the turnovers that plagued them before intermission.
Apex trailed most of the game but took an 11-10 lead with 3:10 remaining on a goal by Sullivan, which Sieber assisted. Lake Norman tied with 1:02 left when Eddie Hendrickson found the net on an assist from Austin Grassey.