The postseason honors continue to pour in for Orange and Cedar Ridge men’s lacrosse teams after a season where both teams made the state playoffs.

On Tuesday, the North Carolina Lacrosse Coaches Association named its 3A/2A/1A All-Region team. Orange longstick midfielder Duncan Grant and senior attacker Ryan Merrill each made the first-team. For Cedar Ridge, junior attacker Roman Oguntoyinbo and defenseman Dov Bearmann also made first-team.

Last month, Merrill and Oguntoyinbo were named co-Conference 9 Players of the Year. Bearmann was honored as co-Conference 9 Defensive Player of the Year, while Grant was named Conference 9 Player of the Year.

In addition, Orange sophomore Jake Wimsatt and freshman midfielder Connor Kruse were named second team All-Region.

Oguntoyinbo was the leading scorer for Cedar Ridge this season with 26 goals and 32 assists. He had five hat tricks, including a six-goal game in a 13-3 win over Vance Charter School in Hillsborough on March 9. He started the year with four goals and three assists against Walter Williams on January 29 in Burlington. Against Orange on February 24, he factored in on all six of the Red Wolves’ goals, scoring three and assisting on the other three.

Oguntoyinbo also led the team with 44 shots on goal and was second with 34 ground balls.

Bearmann provided steady defense for a Cedar Ridge team that held opponents under five goals in all of its wins this season. Bearmann led the Red Wolves with 46 ground balls and six takeaways. He was also occasionally utilized in the face-off circle by head coach Patrick Kavanaugh.

Cedar Ridge made the 3A/2A/1A State Playoffs for the first time since 2018.

Merrill led Orange with 40 goals and 21 assists. He had eight hat tricks, including two 6-goal games. The first was against Walter Williams on February 4, the other against Cedar Ridge.

Merrill’s junior season was limited to six games because of the pandemic. Overall, he ended his Orange career with 56 career goals and 90 points.

Grant was a steady all-around presence for the Panthers on both ends of the field. He registered 18 goals and 23 points in his senior season. He was second on the team with 68 ground balls and led the squad with 38 takeaways.

Under Coach Chandler Zirkle, Orange had the most successful season in team history. They romped through Conference 9, winning its first league championship with a 4-0 record. In the 3A/2A/1A State Playoffs, the Panthers defeated Terry Sanford 17-1 in the opening round. It was the first playoff win for Orange in any sport since May 2019, when the Orange softball team defeated Jacksonville.

Against the Bulldogs, Merrill scored four goals. Grant had six ground balls and four takeaways.

That led to a second round game against Northwood, who throttled Orange 17-6 just nine days prior in Pittsboro Merrill scored three goals and two assists against the Chargers, including the Panthers’ first two markers.

Grant had eight ground balls against the Chargers.

The Panthers reached the State Quarterfinals for the first time in school history, where they face East Chapel Hill. It turned out to be the final game at Orange for Grant and Merrill. Grant had a season-high four points. Merrill scored four goals and three assists against the Wildcats, who defeated the Panthers 15-12 en route to the Eastern Regional Championship.

Just as Merrill and Grant represented Orange’s senior leadership, Wimsatt and Kruse provided a glimpse into the future. Wimsatt was the Panthers’ face-off ace. He won 73% of his draws and led the Panthers with 120 ground balls. Wimsatt also scored five goals in the playoffs and won 20 of 26 face-offs in the East Chapel Hill postseason meeting.

Kruse, who played at Stanford Middle School in 2020, scored the game-winning goal in the playoff win over Northwood. In his first varsity season, Kruse had 24 goals and 17 assists. That included four hat tricks, starting against East Chapel Hill in a 19-14 loss during the regular season on February 10. Kruse also had hat tricks against Northern Durham and Carrboro.

Players from Orange, Cedar Ridge, East Chapel Hill and Chapel Hill comprised 11 of the 14 spots on the first team All-Region. East Chapel Hill’s Sam Reece, Nick Castro, and Alec Levy made the first-team. Chapel Hill was represented by defenseman Carter Grubbs, Zack Riepl, and face-off specialist Damien Kerner. Northwood goalkeeper Hunter Klingel, Topsail’s Brayden Velasquez and First Flight’s Nick Gardill rounded out the first team.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *