Cedar Ridge Men’s Lacrosse

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. 

Cedar Ridge’s Oguntoyinbo & Castro talk trip to Kill Devil Hills for Lax State Playoffs

For the first time since 2017, the Cedar Ridge lacrosse team has won a game in the 3A/2A/1A State Playoffs. On Thursday night, Cedar Ridge dominated Western Alamance 18-5 at Red Wolves Stadium. Cedar Ridge, seeded #7, advanced to face First Flight in Kill Devil Hills on Tuesday night. In what may have been his final game inside Red Wolves Stadium, senior Roman Oguntoyinbo scored a career-high nine goals. With the game tied 1-1 with 8:22 remaining in the first quarter, Oguntoyimbo scored five goals during a 10-0 Cedar Ridge run that took all suspense out of the game. Senior Alex Castro scored all five of his goals in the first half. Castro finished with six points on the night. Oguntoyinbo came away with eleven points as the Red Wolves defeated the Warriors for the third time this season. Cedar Ridge advances to the Round of 16. Junior Billy Power added two goals and an assist, while Mason Lynde and Jim Trost also scored goals for Cedar Ridge. The Red Wolves will face the Nighthawks on Tuesday night. The winner advances to the state quarterfinals. Cedar Ridge is one of three teams from the Central Carolina Conference remaining in the state playoffs. 

Oguntoyinbo scores nine goals, Castro five to vault Cedar Ridge lax past Western Alamance 18-5 in state playoffs

On the home side of Red Wolves Stadium, there are two signs that honor each of Cedar Ridge’s lacrosse teams that reached the Final Four of the 3A/2A/1A State Playoffs.

Every name of the 2015 Eastern Regional Championship squad is printed in the school’s burgundy colors along a white backdrop. Coached by Patrick Kavanaugh, they will forever be the first lacrosse team in Hillsborough history to play in the 3A/2A/1A State Championship game.

Going into Thursday night, they were also the last Cedar Ridge lacrosse team to win a game in the state playoffs. That fact was something that didn’t escape the attention of the 12 Red Wolves seniors on the current Cedar Ridge lacrosse team, all of whom stuck together when their sophomore season ended after just three games due to COVID-19. Last year, playing in stadiums left mostly empty due to COVID-19 protocols, the Red Wolves lost in the opening round of the state playoffs to East Chapel Hill at Dave Thaden Stadium.

The bottom line for seniors Roman Oguntoyinbo, Alex Castro, James Clayton, Josh Taylor, Holden Neal, Erickson Thole, Harrison Neal, Robert Gross, Aidan Dumain and Kellan Hepditch was that their careers wouldn’t be complete without a state playoff win.

It was that purpose that produced Cedar Ridge’s most complete performance of the season on Thursday night.

Roman Oguntoyinbo had a career-high nine goals as the Red Wolves crushed Western Alamance 18-5 at Red Wolves Stadium in the 2nd round of the 3A/2A/1A State Playoffs. Castro added five goals as Cedar Ridge, seeded 7th, advanced to face First Flight in Kill Devil Hills on Tuesday. The Nighthawks, seeded #2, rolled past J.H. Rose 11-3 on Thursday night.

Knowing it was likely their final game at Red Wolves Stadium, all of the Cedar Ridge seniors got in on the act. Taylor started as goalkeeper in the first half before being replaced by freshman Leo Oguntoyinbo in the second half, as is the usual routine established by first-year head coach Cole Churchill. Clayton assisted on five goals, including the opener by Castro 2:21 into the game. Trost scored the final goal of the night, which just happened to be the first of his career, sending the Cedar Ridge bench into a total frenzy. Trost mimicked the celebration by soccer star Cristiano Ronaldo in the end zone

“I didn’t want to have it end today,” Castro said. “I wasn’t going to let my career end today. I love these boys. I would really be down if this was the last game.”

For the second straight game, Oguntoyinbo re-established his career-high for goals. Last Thursday, he scored seven in a 8-2 win over Carrboro at Jaguars Stadium to conclude the regular season. Oguntoyinbo has 76 goals and 49 assists this season.

“Coming into this game, I knew that even though we had beaten Western twice, that the playoffs are a completely different animal,” Oguntoyinbo said. “We saw it last year when we got knocked out in the first round. For days leading up to this game, that’s all I’ve been thinking about. We knew we couldn’t let this team get an edge at all. So we came in and finished the job early.”

After Western Alamance’s Joey Leupold evened the game with a sidearm shot to force a 1-1 tie with 8:27 remaining int the first quarter, the Red Wolves reeled off ten consecutive goals. Castro notched the game-winning goal off a feed from Trost with 7:03 remaining in the first quarter. In the 10-0 run, Oguntoyinbo scored five goals, two of which were assisted by Clayton. Billy Power also scored and assisted on another Oguntoyinbo marker. To wrap up the first half, Oguntoyinbo sent a centering pass behind the night to Castro, who tucked the ball into the upper-left hand corner give Cedar Ridge an 13-2 halftime lead. Castro scored all five of his goals in the first half.

Mason Lynde also scored in the third quarter for the Red Wolves, which triggered a running clock for the remainder of the second half.

Leupold had a hat trick for the Warriors, who end the season 7-10. Sophomore Evan Kuehnel added the other two Western Alamance goals. Junior Tanner Stout had two assists.