After playing 26 games in the past three months, seniors on the Orange lacrosse team have logged plenty of minutes together.

Later today, they will take their final bow in the most famed lacrosse stadium in North Carolina.

Connor Kruse, Alden Cathey, Sascha Van Praag and Josh Crabtree will suit up in the Tony Cullen Classic All-Star game at Koskinen Stadium at Duke University in Durham tonight.

In addition, Katie Wolter will become the first player from Hillsborough to play in the women’s game, which starts at 3PM. After serving as Orange’s goalkeeper playing against men her entire career, Wolter will play in the women’s game for the Blue team.

The game includes lacrosse seniors from throughout the state and includes ten players who competed in men’s state championship games two weeks ago at Durham County Stadium.

In addition, Orange head coach Chandler Zirkle will serve as a head coach for the first time. Zirkle will coach the White team, which includes Kruse and Cathey. Zirkle, who typically serves in a behind the scenes role for the All-Star game, just led the Panthers to its most successful season in school history with a 24-2 record, capturing the 3A/2A/1A Eastern Regional championship for the first time.

The game is named in honor of Tony Cullen, a former Duke player and head coach who still holds the school record with eight assists in one game. He scored 220 career points and went on to serve as a head coach at Duke from 1982-1990. Afterwards, he served as a college official for 12 years.

Kruse, who will attend Lenoir-Rhyne next fall, is finishing the most accomplished career in Orange lacrosse history and will be the standard that future players will be compared with. He set the single-season school record 75 goals and 213 points as Orange won its fourth consecutive Mid-Carolina Conference championship. On March 25, Kruse tied the national record with 16 assists in a 18-5 win over Southern Alamance in Graham.

Cathey was a part of two regional championship team in men’s cross country in 2021 and 2023. He has been a member of the varsity since the pandemic-shortened season in 2021. This year, he led Orange with 58 turnovers created and 136 ground balls. In his final regular season game against Northwood, Cathey had 13 ground balls, a season-high, as the Panthers won 14-3 in Pittsboro to complete an undefeated regular season.

Van Praag, a native of the Netherlands, joined Cathey, Kale & Jace Womble and Drew Jouannet on a fierce defensive front the past three years. Van Praag was in elementary school with Wolter, Kruse, Josh Cowan and Josh Merill, all of whom are seniors who will graduate next month. This season, Van Praag had 75 ground balls and 49 turnovers created. He was named to the All-Conference team and will join Kruse at Lenoir-Rhyne next sesaon.

Crabtree finished with 38 goals this season and scored the opening goal for Orange against Lake Norman Charter, the Panthers’ first-ever goal in a state championship game. He had five hat tricks this season, including three goals against Carrboro in the state quarterfinals on May 7 at Auman Stadium. Crabtree’s season-high was four goals in a win over Western Alamance on April 23. He will play at Methodist University in Fayetteville next year.

Cathey will join Kruse on the White team, while Van Praag and Crabtree are on the Blue team.

Wolter has been Orange’s main goalkeeper for the past three years. Each season, Orange hosted the Eastern Regional championship game. Katie earned her own fan section for Orange home games. Each time she made a save, her family would raise a banner that reads “Play Like a Girl.” Wolter made over 300 saves in her Orange career, but this afternoon’s game will be the first time she has played against other women. Wolter will play women’s lacrosse at Elon University next February.

The game is a benefit for the Duke Cancer Institute. Donations can be made by going to the All-Star game website . 



Leave a Reply

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