FUQUAY-VARINA — The last time Apex’s boys lacrosse team played a game, the Cougars were celebrating the 2013 state title.
The last time we the Fuquay-Varina boys lacrosse team played a game … well, we haven’t seen the Bengals field a team in the sport until this season.
Fuquay was forced to make its program debut against the defending state champions, thanks to the schedule-maker, and predictably suffered a 15-2 loss Wednesday night at the Bengals’ football stadium.
But the campus energy and enthusiasm generated for opening night suggested the school was ready for the moment despite the one-sided score. The evening began with resounding rendition of the national anthem sung by six members of the Fuquay-Varina chorus.
“It’s great for lacrosse in the area for Fuquay to start a program,” said Apex coach John Hayden. “They’ll improve and get more excitement in the next couple of years. We don’t have any bad teams in our conference – just new teams.”
The Southwest Wake Athletic Conference is now fully stocked with all the schools fielding a boys team.
Fuquay talked about starting a team in recent years, but the turning point to action was the fall of 2012 when then-newly appointed athletic director James Mountford gauged interest from booster club and athletes on campus. The boosters said they would help with the funding and a turnout of 30 players was enough to convince Mountford to move forward.
“Some of the guys had been playing on club teams and had experience,” Mountford said. “The turnout showed we had enough kids who cared a lot about the game. I was confident we could start a team the next year.”
Next, the Bengals got lucky when Green Hope coach Jack Bogwicz decided he would shoulder the load of starting a program.
Mountford first approached Bogwicz when he coached a club team at Fuquay. At first, Bogwicz rejected the idea, but Bogwicz and his wife have a newborn baby. The commute between his teaching job at Holly Ridge Elementary School and Fuquay-Varina High was significantly shorter than to Green Hope.
He also said he feared no one would take the job and felt obligated to help the sport grow at Fuquay.
“I liked our worth ethic and that we never gave up,” Bogwicz said. “The two things I expect are attitude and effort, and they gave 100 percent in both.”
Apex needed less than a minute for Colby Lalicker to score the first goal and within the first two minutes the Cougars led 3-0. In all, 11 Apex players scored goals as Hayden emptied his bench. Junior attacker Brendan Farrell finished with three and sophomore attacker Jack Hayden and junior midfielder Dylan McGough tallied two each.
For Fuquay, senior midfielder Johnny Tapia scored the first goal in Fuquay history in the first quarter and tallied the Bengals’ second goal in the third period.
“The more experience we get, the better we’ll play,” Tapia said. “We’ve got a lot of heart, and as we showed today we went out fighting.”
Tapia is one of the Fuquay players with a club sport background. Bogwicz described most of the rest of the roster as “some football guys, some soccer guys and not a lot of lacrosse guys.”
Nevertheless, history was made.
“It feels great to get the first two goals in Fuquay history,” Tapia said.
Mountford also made sure the lacrosse team played at the football stadium. It’s still a sore spot with the former Fuquay soccer coach and player that when he was a student-athlete in the early 1990s and the newly-formed soccer team he played on couldn’t use the football field for the first two years.
“They’ll practice and play on campus,” Mountford said. “They’ll be treated just like any other program on campus.”