Weddington High School saw its 2016 boys lacrosse season come to an end when the Warriors lost to eventual Class 1A/2A/3A state champion Marvin Ridge in the fourth round of the NCHSAA Boys Lacrosse State Championships last May
This year, Weddington ended the season on a winning note and that ending was made even more the sweeter as the Warriors avenged last year’s loss to Marvin Ridge during the playoffs.
Weddington overcame an early deficit May 19 and three different players scored three goals each as the Warriors defeated Cedar Ridge 21-6 to win the Class 1A/2A/3A Boys State Lacrosse Championship.
Weddington finishes the season at 19-1 overall and the Warriors are currently ranked No. 27 nationally by MaxPreps.com.
“It was the culmination of a lot of hard work by these guys,” said Weddington lacrosse coach Erik Gundersen. “There was a lot of pressure on their backs during the season to win and then cap the season off with a state championship. It was a lot of fun.”
Weddington ended the regular season with a victory over Marvin Ridge and the Warriors, who had a first-round bye at state, then opened the post season with a 21-8 victory over the Mavericks.
But the Warriors waited over two weeks between meetings with the Mavericks and Gundersen said the wait was a difficult one.
“Everybody remembered last year when we beat them twice in the regular season before losing to them,” Gundersen said. “We believed we were the best team but we fell short in that playoff game. It was on their minds and they wanted to make sure it didn’t happen again.”
Weddington then defeated Northern Guilford (18-5) and Cuthbertson (21-6) to reach the championship game.
Weddington fell behind Cedar Ridge early in the championship game but the Warriors used a quick 12-1 run to take a 12-4 lead at halftime. Weddington then used its explosive offense and stingy defense to pull away in the second half for the 21-6 win.
Weddington averaged 16 goals a game this season while surrendering just 4.8 goals an outing.
“Defense was great,” Gundersen said. “Offense sells tickets and defense wins championships. It was a combination of both for us this year, obviously. Our defense was phenomenal. We came out aggressive, caused turnovers and turned those turnovers into goals. That was key for us, having a really aggressive and talented defense.”
Austin Leonard, Hunter Fasnaro and Alex Helms all had hat tricks in the championship game. Fasnaro finished with 47 goals on the year while Leonard and Helms had 43 and 39 goals, respectively. Cole Dinwiddie led Weddington with 68 goals on the season.
“Alex got us started with a goal in the second quarter and then we ran off some quick goals,” Gundersen said. “It rolled from there. We had 19 goals in about a 22-minute span between the second and third quarter. That was pretty impressive.”
Leonard had three goals in the second quarter and he was named the game’s Most Valuable Player.
“If anybody really got it going for us it was Austin,” Gundersen said. “But again, it started on the defensive end.”