WEDDINGTON — As the Weddington boys lacrosse team has raced to back-to-back NCHSAA 1A/2A/3A/ titles, the Warrior girls have enjoyed similar success during the regular season only to suffer heartbreak in the playoffs.
In 2016, it was Myers Park ending the Warriors season in the Final Four by one goal. Last season, Charlotte Catholic nullified a perfect 15-0 start in the third round with a stinging 9-6 defeat.
On top of that, this season’s first couple of weeks brought another challenge as coach Annie McGinley suddenly left the program.
But nothing has derailed the Warriors as they’ve tried to make this their best season yet.
“The girls themselves have all pulled together,” said Peter Case, who has assumed coaching responsibilities and who has previously coached 17 or the 23 girls during middle school and club lacrosse. “I’ve seen nothing out here but unbelievable cooperation. They help each other, they support each other and they’re very unselfish. Nobody talks about how many goals they score and I’ve had zero complaints from anyone. The girls have done a fantastic job.”
They’re also playing some very good lacrosse.
In a 16-10 win over Charlotte Latin on April 26 their killer instinct was put to the test.
“I give credit to the coaches who set up the schedule,” Case said. “We beat Myers Park, Catholic, Lake Norman twice, Cardinal Gibbons and out-of-state we beat one of the top 10 teams in Ohio and a top-10 team in Virginia and the second-ranked team in Fort Mill. Our schedule is unbelievably demanding and they’ve played in a couple of tight spots like Latin and so far they’re determination has been tremendous and we’ve come out of it every time.”
In the Latin game, the Warriors had mostly dominated the first half, but came out a little sluggish while the Hawks attacked. Soon, after three straight Latin goals, the Weddington lead was cut to 11-10, but the battle-tested Warriors directed sophomore Jordyn Case to attack the box. From there, she took over down the stretch as Weddington scored five unanswered goals to run their record to 16-0 this season, which is a new school record.
Jordyn Case has made a huge leap in production this year, and she’s fast enough to beat most defenders by herself as the Southern Carolinas Conference 100-meter sprint champion, a feat she accomplished basically in her spare time.
This season, she leads the team with 62 goals, upping that from 52 a season ago. She’s also set career highs in assists (27) and draw percentage (.708).
“I’ve noticed a huge difference,” said junior Meryl Johnson. “When you are a freshman I think it’s kind of overwhelming coming from middle school and our coach before was a lot of work. I think once she got used for it, she really got it going.”
Johnson, who is a Michigan recruit and the reigning Union County Player of the Year, provides another dilemma for defenders.
She’s third on the team in goals scored with 47 but also leads the team with 41 assists.
“Usually my biggest stat is assists,” Johnson said. “My biggest target is usually Alex (Wall) because we have this thing where we know where each other will be. I give it to Jordyn because she can fly past people. I try to see the field and know where they’re going to be before they get there.”
Wall, who is Drexel commit, has been the benefit of both Case and Johnson’s passing. This season she has 49 goals while sophomore Kendal Williams has 44 goals and 15 assists.
“The thing is we have so many different players that taking out one or two players isn’t going to make a difference because everyone on our team can score,” Jordyn Case said.
In addition to the firepower that also includes Blaine Randolph (18 goals) and freshman Ella Papke (15 goals), the Warriors have a shutdown defense anchored by Arizona State commit Flynn Murphy.
With all of the pieces seemingly in place, the Warriors seemed destined to win it all after a 17-0 start.
“The key for our team is limiting the other team’s possessions,” Peter Case said. “We’re really good on offense and we have seven or eight kids and even some kids who don’t play a lot on our bench who can score. So it’s really going to come down to limiting their offense by giving them one shot and then getting a clear. We need to win the draw, win the ground ball battle and if we can do those things and limit the other team’s possessions we’ll be really tough to beat.”
Unfortunately for the Warriors, heartbreak struck again with a double-overtime 12-11 loss to Lake Norman, a team they’d beaten twice this season, in the third round of the playoffs.
Wall scored three times and Case and Johnson added two more goals but it wasn’t enough.
But the Warriors will be back. Of the 13 players who scored two or more goals, only Wall will graduate. Defensively, Murphy will return in goal to shut down a team that has all the talent to make another run next year.