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If there was any dispute about which boys’ lacrosse conference might be the toughest, it was settled in last year’s third round of the state playoffs. Three-fourths of the East semifinals were teams from Conference 2 – including Cardinal Gibbons, Athens Drive and Holly Springs.
Cardinal Gibbons (20-1): The Crusaders defeated Athens for a spot in the state title game, then hit the crossbar on a last-second shot that would have sent the state title into overtime. Junior Gannon Morrison (18 goals, 32 assists) and seniors Jeff Williams and Colin McKendry lead the returning players.
Athens Drive (14-4): The Jaguars had one of the area’s top defenses last year. They will return goalie Dane Peddicord and defender Hunter Williams. Senior Jake Hargrove is the team’s leading returning scorer.
Apex (14-5): Derek Sweet and Luke Sieber return to the Cougars, who finished tied for second in the league. Those two seniors led the area in scoring last year, and Sieber was the conference player of the year. Junior Colby Lalicker was also an all-conference pick.
Holly Springs (11-8): The Golden Hawks return much of their core from last year. Midfielder Andrew Ruskey, defender Evan Allen, goalie Mathias Goldstein, Ethan Brantley, Mitchell Daratony and Taylor Ferguson will lead a talented senior class.
Panther Creek (8-9): The Catamounts just missed on the postseason last year, but they will return senior Alex Mastroianni to their attack.
Middle Creek (5-9): The Mustangs return junior Justin Medwar, along with seniors Ben Doetzer and Alex Kaminski, to their attack. Senior goalie Blake Aaron returns as well.
Green Hope (3-13): The Falcons return four of their top five scorers from last year in juniors Chris Brunetti and Wilson Booth, and seniors Quinn Stanley and Will Rhodes.
Cary (3-14): The Imps return only a handful of players from last year’s roster, including seniors Clayton Blackwelder, Chris Johnson and Aaron Plynaar.