Cardinal Gibbons pulls away from Ardrey Kell in 4A boys lacrosse final
Cardinal Gibbons’ boys lacrosse team defeated Ardrey Kell 12-5 in the N.C. High School Athletic Association 4A state championship game on Saturday afternoon.
After two years of failing to make the state championship game, the Crusaders returned in a big way as they won the program’s first title since 2016.
“I’m really happy for them,” head coach Alex Buckley said after the game. “They’ve worked very hard. I don’t know if we were favorites to do this, but I think that we were at the end the best team.”
Ardrey Kell scored two of the first three goals in the game, giving the Knights a 2-1 advantage, but Cardinal Gibbons answered with a big run. A run sparked by Will Stock gave the Crusaders the lead for good.
Stock tied the game at 2-2 off an assist from Griffin Cooling. Joe Torres, who has made several big plays for Cardinal Gibbons during the playoffs, gave the Crusaders their first lead of the game at 3-2 with 31 seconds left in the first quarter.
That lead grew early in the second quarter when Caden Zadell extended the lead to 4-2 on an unassisted goal with 10:23 left in the half. Later in the quarter, Cooling assisted Torres on another goal to push the lead to 5-2.
Ardrey Kell tried to stay within striking distance as Cade Caggiano scored at the 6:50 mark to cut Cardinal Gibbons’ lead to 5-3. But just over a minute later, Zadell scored another goal to give Gibbons a three-goal lead again, 6-3.
Cole Argay scored a goal on an assist from Daniel Enoch, and Torres recorded a hat trick with 2:10 left in the half. Then late Ardrey Kell goal at the 1:03 mark meant Cardinal Gibbons led 8-4 at halftime.
Cardinal Gibbons drew first blood in the second half as Zadell recorded a hat trick with a fast break goal off an assist from Patrick King. Cardinal Gibbons led 9-4 with 7:18 left in the third quarter. Just 39 seconds later, Zadell recorded an assist on a goal by Matt Pancoast, pushing Gibbons’ lead to 10-4.
Ardrey Kell’s Ryan Curry scored the first goal of the second half for the Knights with 26 seconds left in the third quarter. Curry’s goal cut Cardinal Gibbons’ lead to 10-5, but the Crusaders weren’t done in the quarter. Patrick King scored on an assist from Torres and Cardinal Gibbons led 11-5 through three quarter.
Cardinal Gibbons opened the fourth quarter with a quick goal. Trent Orr scored and Cooling got the assist just 25 seconds into the fourth quarter, pushing the Crusaders’ lead to 12-5.
Gorman was recognized as the MVP of the state championship game for his contributions in the faceoff circle in helping the Crusaders establish possession.
The win marks the fourth state championship in boys lacrosse for Cardinal Gibbons. The Crusaders won three straight state titles from 2014 through 2016. Saturday’s game was the first appearance in a boys lacrosse state title game for Ardrey Kell.