Northern makes lacrosse debut at KVA

Mar. 12, 2014 @ 10:43 PM

Kerr-Vance notched its first win of the season on Wednesday, but to head coach Scott Burnette, the numbers on the scoreboard didn’t matter nearly as much as the numbers on the sidelines — 25 for Burnette’s KVA squad — and 25 for Northern Vance, playing its first lacrosse match in school history.

“We had 50 kids out playing lacrosse today. That’s what it’s all about,” said Burnette, who started the Spartans’ program five years ago. “I didn’t care what the score was. We had two teams from Henderson out there playing. That’s great for Vance County. I’m fired up for them. I really hope they do well this year.”

The final count was 17-0 in favor of the Spartans. The home team looked every bit the more seasoned side, dominating possession after scoring less than a minute and a half into the game. KVA (1-1) led by double digits at halftime before the second half was played with a running clock.

But Northern had its moments. The upstart Vikings were able to string some passes together and got a few shots off on target.

Midway through the second period and with his team behind 7-0, Northern head coach Sam Barnes screamed with delight as his defenders made a stop in front of Vikings goalie Harrison Perkinson — a seemingly routine play for an established team, but a building block for a growing one. 

“We have a lot to build on,” said Barnes. “I liked what I saw. I saw a lot of athleticism. I saw a lot of aggressiveness. I believe that we’re going to win a couple of games this year based on what I saw today. We just have to put down some of the fundamentals and we’ll be good to go.”

Barnes was animated on the sideline, challenging the Vikings at the end of each period to not give up. A number of Northern players were getting an introduction to competitive lacrosse — and their coach was too.

“I feel like as the game went on, I got better,” said Barnes. “Even the kids helped me out some too and I was very appreciative of that. That shows what kind of character they have.”

Barnes was impressed with the play of Northern freshman Brooks Falkner and junior Will Pernell in the midfield and credited captain Lucas Hamrick with “taking charge.”

Hamrick, a sophomore, is one of about 10 Vikings who played for the Vance Charter School team in middle school. He hadn’t played a competitive match in two years.

“I was looking forward to it the whole day,” Hamrick said of the game. “It’s more rough than practice. Our stamina wasn’t so good at the beginning of the game as it was at the end.”

KVA’s Sam Fuquay turned in the highlight play of the evening near the end, scoring on an assist from Joseph Everette. Fuquay, a junior attackman, snagged the pass near the crease and flicked the ball behind his back to beat Perkinson. 

Fuquay’s deft strike left even the Northern sideline chattering with approval.

“It’s just something that I’ve been working on,” said Fuquay, who led the Spartans with six goals. “I got the pass on my right hand and I didn’t want to switch left-handed so I just put it behind the back.”

Colin Pegram added five goals for KVA, which employed four eighth-graders and visits New Bern’s Epiphany School on Friday. Everette and Emil Bruce each had two assists and Bruce gathered 10 ground balls.

The first chapter of the city rivalry was physical, but not heated. Fuquay said he knows more than half of Northern’s players from middle school or pickup competitions and echoed his coach’s sentiment by saying the meeting marked a great day for Henderson and Vance County.

“Knowing that they have a lot of underclassmen, going forward I think they’ll be good,” Fuquay said of Northern.

They’ll have to get good in a hurry to compete this season in a stout 3-A Big Eight Conference featuring Raleigh’s Cardinal Gibbons and Chapel Hill. Gibbons is currently the top-ranked N.C. High School Athletic Association team.

The Vikings open league play Tuesday at Orange.

“They have a lot of good athletes out there,” Burnette said of Northern. “You’re going to see a lot of improvement in them today through their next game and the next game. They’re going to get better each game.”

Spartans top Northern Granville

Northern Vance wasn’t the only team making history Wednesday at KVA. Northern Granville Middle School played its first lacrosse game, falling 12-0 to the Spartans.

The addition of a team at Northern Granville gives J.F. Webb a feeder program. The Warriors played their first season in 2010, the same as KVA.

Scoring for the Spartans were Gabriel Carr (5), Max Perry (2), Drew Griggs, Justin Watts, Jack Cheever, Nick Ellington, and Raphael Negron. Negron also added nine ground balls for KVA (1-0).

Contact the writer at kholtzman@hendersondispatch.com.