Cedar Ridge Men’s Lacrosse

Cedar Ridge Red Wolf of the Week: Jacob Driver

This week’s Cedar Ridge Red Wolf of the Week is senior lacrosse midfielder Jacob Driver. This season, Driver was the leading scorer for the Cedar Ridge lacrosse team. He scored six goals in a win over Eastern Alamance on March 21. In his sophomore season, Driver was a midfielder for a team that included Roman Oguntoyinbo, Alex Castro and James Clayton. That team won in the 3A/2A/1A State Playoff over Western Alamance. Driver scored 26 goals in his junior year. This year, Driver led the Red Wolves back to the state playoffs under new head coach Joe De Leo, where they hosted a state playoff game against West Carteret on Wednesday night. The Red Wolves came up one goal short in beating the Patriots. In his final game, Driver had three goals and an assist as he sparked a comeback after the Patriots held the Red Wolves without a goal for over 16 minutes. Driver has an insatiable appetite for lacrosse, watching college and professional games when he isn’t playing or practicing for the Red Wolves. After he graduates next month, Driver will prepare for a college lacrosse career, where he will play at Division II Mount Olive College, becoming the latest Cedar Ridge lacrosse product to play at the next level.

Orange lacrosse receives #1 seed in 3A/2A/1A State Tournament; Cedar Ridge to host West Carteret Wednesday

The Cedar Ridge lacrosse team will host its first game in the state playoffs since 2022 following the release of the 3A/2A/1A State Lacrosse brackets finalized by the North Carolina High School Athletic Association.

As expected, Orange received the #1 seed in the East Region after going 20-1 in the regular season, the best winning percentage in team history going into the playoffs.

Cedar Ridge, led by first-year head coach Joe De Leo, will host West Carteret in a first-round game at Red Wolves Stadium on Wednesday night at 6PM. The Red Wolves received a #14 seed. It will be the Red Wolves first home playoff game since they defeated Western Alamance in 2022 behind Roman Oguntoyinbo, who scored nine goals in an 18-5 win. The Patriots will arrive in Hillsborough with a 3-7 record. They went 0-4 in the Coastal Conference.

The winner of Cedar Ridge-West Carteret will travel to Kill Devil Hills to face 3rd-seeded First Flight in the second round. As fate would have it, Cedar Ridge’s last playoff game came against First Flight, which the Nighthawks won 14-10. First Flight would go on to win the 3A/2A/1A Eastern Regional championship, beating Orange in Hillsborough 13-7 for the title.

Cedar Ridge, led by senior Jacob Driver, won five of seven games during a stretch in April to return to the state playoffs. The Red Wolves defeated Southeast Alamance 21-5 at Red Wolves Stadium on April 19, a game where Driver finished with six goals. Cedar Ridge also defeated Eastern Alamance 11-5 on April 23 in Hillsborough. They finished the regular season 9-10 overall, 6-10 in the Mid-Piedmont Conference.

For the third year in a row, the road to the 3A/2A/1A State Championship game will run through Auman Stadium in Hillsborough. Orange won a school-record 16 conference games in the Mid-Piedmont and finished 17-0 against opposition in its same classification this year. The Panthers received a bye into the second round and are scheduled to play on Saturday night, though that is subject to change, against the winner of Southern Alamance vs. Northside-Jacksonville. The Patriots and the Monarchs will face off in Graham on Wednesday.

The Panthers already have defeated Southern Alamance twice this year. Orange defeated the Patriots 18-5 on March 25 in Graham, a game where Orange midfielder Connor Kruse tied the national record with 16 assists in one game. 17 different Orange players scored goals in the opening meeting against the Patriots. On April 22, Orange routed the Patriots 20-1 at Auman Stadium. Junior Gray Crabtree finished with seven goals, while Luke Nevius and Kruse each had a hat trick.

If Orange faces Northside-Jacksonville, it would be a flashback for Orange head coach Chandler Zirkle. His first playoff win as a head coach came in Jacksonville against the Monarchs, a 17-13 victory on May 2, 2019. Dylan Boyer scored four goals as the Panthers never trailed. To show how much Orange lacrosse has progressed, it was just the second-ever playoff win for Orange. In the past two years, the Panthers have won a total of six playoff games.

Orange could play a series of conference rivals in the opening two rounds. If the Panthers can reach the third round, they would face either Seaforth or Western Alamance. This season, Seaforth was the main challenger to the Panthers throne. The Hawks, a 2A team out of Pittsboro now in its third year, finished 2nd in the Mid-Piedmont with a 14-2 mark.

Orange set a team record scoring 355 goals this season. It will be the last playoff run for seniors Connor Kruse, Katie Wolter, defensemen Sascha Van Praag, Alden Cathey and Jace Womble, attackers Josh Crabtree, Brennan Barker, Bryce Nelson and midfielders Josh Cowan, Josh Merrill and Nate Sorrells along with goalkeeper Parker Christie-Pohl.

Crabtree has committed to play with Methodist. Kruse and Van Praag have signed with Division II Lenoir-Rhyne. Wolter will play women’s lacrosse at Elon. Cathey has signed with Arcadia University in Pennsylvania.


Cedar Ridge’s Hayden Kirk discusses commitment to Averett University

Hayden Kirk is a three-sport athlete at Cedar Ridge. In November, he officially signed to play football and lacrosse at Averett University, a Division III college in Danville, VA. In his sophomore season, Kirk’s defense helped the Red Wolves win a state playoff game over Western Alamance inside Red Wolves Stadium. He has also been a regular for the Cedar Ridge men’s basketball team for the past four years and was honored during Senior Night festivities against Walter Willimas on Tuesday night. He has also volunteered at the Orange County Sheriff’s Office for the past four years. When Hayden signed his letter of intent at Cedar Ridge last fall, Orange County Sheriff Charles Blackwood spoke about the contributions that Kirk has made. Kirk has been a wide receiver for the Cedar Ridge football team and plans to play on the gridiron at Averett. He has been a contributor in keeping Friday night lights on at Cedar Ridge after the school didn’t field a varsity football team in 2018 and in 2021. Kirk will conclude basketball season next week, then start preparing for lacrosse under head coach Cole Churchill. The Red Wolves lacrosse season starts on February 27 when they face Northwood, the defending 3A/2A/1A Eastern Regional champions, at Red Wolves Stadium.

Members of the Orange County Hockey Club discuss win over Chapel Hill

Once May rolls around, the high school sports scene traditionally dies down. This year, the Orange County Hockey Club was just getting off the ground in June. Though their schedule was limited to two games, Orange County won both of its games convincingly. In June, Orange County defeated Chapel Hill 10-2 on June 4 at Invisalign Arena in Morrisville. Will Deis of Orange High School scored four goals. Aidan Raedy of Eno River Academy notched two goals. Glenn Farmer and Andrew Kutchma also scored. The following week, Orange County defeated Enloe 6-4 in its final game of its brief first campaign. Farmer finished with a hat trick, while Kane Clark, Bryce Nelson and Raedy also scored. Vaughn Clough of Eno River Academy was the winning goalie in each of Orange County’s two wins. Orange County was coached by Thomas Loch, an all-Central Carolina Conference golfer who played on the varsity basketball team for four years. Loch graduated in June. The Orange County Hockey Club aims to play a full schedule for next year in the Triangle High School Hockey League. They’re accepting donations at their Intagram page. Go to @ochs_hockey and click on the bio to learn more about how to donate.



Ice Breaker–Behind Deis & Raedy, Orange County Hockey Club wins opening two games in new high school league

Thomas Loch, dapper in a black suit, stepped away from the bench holding a sheer of paper and his blond hair slicked back.

Officially, he’s the coach of the Orange County Hockey Club, but really it’s a figurative job title. He isn’t Rod Brind’Amour, laboring over line decisions, defensive pairings and who to put on the ice on the power play. But someone has to stand behind the bench and organize things, especially for a fledgling team in a new league.

The Orange County Hockey Club is comprised of players from Orange High, Cedar Ridge High and Eno River Academy, along with a few players from Wake County. They’re part of the Triangle High School Hockey League, which contests games across two rinks at Invisalign Arena in Morrisville during May and June.

Comprised of 18 teams, the THSL was born out of student interest and engagement. Orange County was unable to play a full league schedule because players had commitments to other spring sports, but once they got together on the ice, it was pure fire.

Orange County won both of its games they played earlier this summer. On June 4, they defeated Chapel Hill 10-2. Will Deis of Orange High notched four goals, while Aidan Raedy of Eno River Academy and Kane Clark each scored twice. Glenn Farmer and Andrew Kutchma also had goals.

On June 12, Orange County won its second and final game over Enloe 6-4. Farmer finished with a hat trick, while Clark, Raedy and Bryce Nelson of Orange High each scored a goal.

Vaughn Clough from Eno River was the goalie in both wins for Orange County.

Nelson had some friends from neighboring schools in other districts that started hockey teams. So he asked friends who skated at the Orange County SportsPlex to gauge their interest.

“Why not have one here?” Nelson said. “We have depth. We got a good team. I reached out to these guys, got the ice time to practice and we’re playing games now.”

Hockey in Hillsborough traces back to the 1950s with the old skating rink at the Daniel Boone Village, where UNC and Duke played home games in a building that wasn’t climate controlled. When the puck dropped, UNC and Duke fans would show up to late-night contests on Fridays and Saturdays bundled up in sweaters and blankets because the building had to be kept near freezing for the sake of the ice. Daniel Boone would only be open 4-6 months a year, then close during the spring and summer.

When the SportsPlex opened in 1995, it was a bold step into the future which had early stumbles financially. But it was open all calendar year. Minor league teams passing through town to play the Raleigh IceCaps or the Greensboro Monarchs of the ECHL would reserve the SportsPlex’s rink for practice time.

Over time, the SportsPlex gained traction and has become an attraction throughout the Triangle. Just as the SportsPlex has been a breeding ground for swimmers like Orange’s Katie Belle Sikes,  who was named the Most Outstanding Swimmer at the 3A State Championships last February, it has also provided an NHL-sized rink for hockey players.

The stereotype of the toothless, blood thirsty hockey player may have faded in the NHL at the dawn of the 21st century, but that doesn’t mean things didn’t get physical between Orange and Chapel Hill. There were several skirmishes between whistles that featured pushing, shoving and a few pie-faced palm thrusts.

“I don’t want anybody getting hurt,” Loch said. “It got a little chipping today. I think we have a good group of guys.”

While Orange County was limited to two games this year, they’re hopeful to add more games for next spring. They’re also looking for funding. The team has established a Go Fund Me on Instagram @OCHS_Hockey with a link in the bio. The money goes to pay for ice time and equipment.



Cedar Ridge’s Roman Oguntoyinbo discusses playing in the Bull City All-Star Game

Roman Oguntoyinbo wound up with one more win before his days as a Cedar Ridge Red Wolf are done. On Wednesday night, Oguntoyinbo played in the Bull City All-Star Lacrosse Game at Koskinen Stadium at Duke University. Not only is Roman a lacrosse player, but he is an avid college lacrosse fan and has watched Duke play many times at Kosikinen. Oguntoyinbo played for the Blue team, which defeated the White squad 20-18. After spending this season with a Cedar Ridge team that finished third in the Mid-Carolina Conference, Oguntoyinbo was teammates with several of his league rivals on the Blue Team. That included Sam Havertstrom of Walter Williams, Jack DiFabio of Orange High and Pierce Cook of Northwood. This season, Oguntoyinbo led Cedar Ridge to its first win in the 3A/2A/1A State Playoffs since 2017. When Roman graduates in two weeks, he will continue his lacrosse career at Northfield Mount Herman Prep in Massachusetts. His brother, Leo, watched the Bull City All-Star Game on Wednesday night. Leo Oguntoyinbo will remain in Hillsborough at Cedar Ridge, where he played goalkeeper for the lacrosse team and was a wrestler. 

Cedar Ridge’s Oguntoyinbo, Orange’s DiFabio named to Wednesday’s Bull City All-Star Lax Game

While the spring sports season is officially over for Orange County Schools, two local senior lacrosse players will not only extend their careers by one game.

For once, they will be teammates.

Cedar Ridge attacker Roman Oguntoyinbo and Orange midfielder Jack DiFabio have been named to the Bull City All-Star Lacrosse Game, an annual event held at Koskinen Stadium on the campus of Duke University. The 5th annual Bull City All Star Game will be held on Wednesday, starting with the women’s game at 4 PM. The men’s game will follow at 6:30.

Oguntoyinbo and DiFabio were selected to play on the Blue Squad, which will be led by Gordon Galloway, the head coach at Cardinal Gibbons High School.

Across the men’s and women’s games, over 228 players from across the state are nominated by 103 coaches. 118 are selected to play in the two All-Star Games with players ranging as close as Hillsborough, as far east as Wilmington and as far southwest as Charlotte, Weddington and Waxhaw.

Both Oguntoyinbo and DiFabio were standout players during a season where, collectively, Hillsborough lacrosse was its strongest in years. Cedar Ridge hosted its first game in the 3A/2A/1A State Playoffs since 2017 and defeated Western Alamance. For the first time ever, Orange hosted the 3A/2A/1A Eastern Regional Championship at Auman Stadium.

In his final season at Cedar Ridge, Oguntoyinbo scored a career-high 78 goals and 51 assists. In his final game at Red Wolves Stadium, Oguntoyinbo scored a career-high nine goals and dished out two assists. Cedar Ridge defeated Western Alamance 18-5 for its first win in the state playoffs since 2017, when they won the 3A/2A/1A Eastern Regional Championship.

In his final regular season game, Oguntoyinbo scored seven goals in a 8-2 victory at Carrboro. He had 13 hat tricks in his senior season, starting with four goals in a season-opening 10-8 win at Jordan. For his career, Oguntoyinbo scored 119 goals, 95 assists and 214 points. His career shooting percentage is .704.

DiFabio filled a critical need for Orange on faceoffs, an area where the Panthers had the advantage in almost every game this season. Lining up as a midfielder along the wing, DiFabio helped Orange win 77% of face-offs during 2022, a season where the Panthers went undefeated in the Mid-Carolina Conference. It was the second straight year where Orange won a conference championship.

DiFabio, the son of Gwen and Mike DiFabio, had 24 ground balls over 13 games in his senior season. That included four ground balls in a 19-5 win over Eastern Alamance in Mebane, which wrapped up the conference championship for the Panthers. DiFabio, whose mother played basketball and softball at Orange, was in his second season at the varsity level. He has announced plans to attend N.C. State after graduation from Orange next month.

The Bull City All-Star Game is an event reserved exclusively for seniors. Also included on the Blue Team will be Northwood’s Pierce Cook, an All-Conference defenseman who helped the Chargers finish second in the Mid-Carolina Conference this spring. Walter Williams’ Samuel Haverstrom, who has announced plans to attend Widener University in Chester, Pennsylvania, and midfielder McIver Oakley were also selected for the Blue Team. Oakley has been accepted at Appalachian State.

Breyden Harrison, who helped Middle Creek win the 4A State Championship on May 21, was also picked for the Blue Squad. Harrison had a hat trick as the Mustangs defeated Cardinal Gibbons to win the 4A Eastern Regional Championship on May 17. Harrison had another hat trick in a 9-8 win over Weddington for the state title at WakeMed Soccer Park in Cary.

The women’s game will feature several players who played in the State Championship game between Cardinal Gibbons and Charlotte Catholic on May 21. Gibbons’ Georgia Sobocinski, who had four points in the Crusaders’ 13-11 win for the state championship, is on the White Team roster. So is defenseman Kira Dann, who registered ten ground balls for the Crusaders this season.

On the Blue Team, Cardinal Gibbons’ Sydney Calabrese and Maddie Gillmore made the team. Calabrese had two goals in the state championship game.

Cedar Ridge Red Wolf of the Week: Billy Power

This week’s Cedar Ridge Red Wolf of the Week is junior lacrosse attacker Billy Power. This season, Power helped Cedar Ridge host its first game in the 3A/2A/1A/ State Playoffs since 2017, when they won the Eastern Regional Championship. Power moved to Hillsborough in November and immediately found himself immersed in Cedar Ridge athletics. He played on the varsity men’s basketball team, but it was on the lacrosse field under head coach Cole Churchill where he made the biggest impact. Power was second on the team with 70 points this season. That included 50 goals. On April 27, Power scored four goals in the Red Wolves 8-7 overtime win over Bishop McGuinness, where Alex Castro scored the game-winning goal. This season, Power had ten hat tricks. That included five goals in an 18-12 victory over Western Alamance at Red Wolves Stadium. He also scored five goals in a 12-5 win over Seaford. This season, Power helped Cedar Ridge to its first win in the state playoffs in five years. As top scorers Roman Oguntoyinbo, James Clayton, Alex Castro and Logan Eckholm graduated next month, Power will take on a greater role for next year’s Red Wolves as they continue to move forward in the Mid-Carolina Conference. 

Cedar Ridge Red Wolf of the Week: James Clayton

This week’s Cedar Ridge Red Wolf of the Week is senior lacrosse midfielder James Clayton. On Thursday night, Clayton had five assists as the Red Wolves defeated Western Alamance 18-5 at Red Wolves Stadium. It was the first time that Cedar Ridge had won a game in the 3A/2A/1A State Playoffs since 2017, when they reached the state championship game. In addition, Clayton is the second-leading scorer for Cedar Ridge with 37 points season. On March 8, Clayton had four goals in an 19-4 win over Seaforth. On April 14, the Red Wolves defeated Western Alamance 18-12 in Hillsborough. Clayton had a career-best six assists. On Tuesday night, Cedar Ridge will make a trip to Kill Devil Hills to face First Flight in the Round of 16 in the State Playoffs. Clayton has played four years on the varsity level. This year marks a new career-high for points, goals and assists. After he graduates from Cedar Ridge next month, Clayton plans to attend N.C. State where he wants to play club lacrosse. In a stretch midway through the Mid-Carolina Conference season this year, Clayton scored goals in six consecutive games.