Apex ends gritty Jordan's season in state lacrosse semifinals
When Jordan’s Sam Helwig looks back on his high school years, he’ll have plenty of good memories.
One of those will be his senior season of lacrosse, when he’ll likely look past the 10-2 drubbing from Apex in the finals of the Eastern regional. Instead, he’ll remember how this Falcon team overcame the loss of all-American Thomas Schmidt, a 1-4 start and a difficult schedule to reach the state final four.
“I’ll remember the way everyone came together as a family,” Helwig said. “I’ve never played with a tighter-knit group of people. We’re a family, and we played like a family. That’s the most important thing.”
Apex, the defending state champions, put the clamps on Jordan’s Owen Perrien and Jesse Melton as the Falcons struggled with possession and getting good shots. The Jordan defense played well, but the powerhouse Cougars were simply too much.
“I actually thought our defense played pretty well,” Falcons coach Jamie Sliwa said. “Our goal was to hold them 10. We thought if we could hold them to 10, then we would’ve had a chance. We just couldn’t produce offensively.”
Apex (19-2) scored less than a minute into the game and led 3-0 after the first quarter. Jordan (8-6) finally got on the board in the third quarter when two goals cut the lead to 6-2.
But Apex goals 18 seconds apart pushed the lead back to 8-2 as the Falcons’ struggles on offense continued.
“They packed everyone in close in front of the net,” Sliwa said. “Our offense is based off of dodging and moving the ball backside, and when we couldn’t do that, it caused us some issues. I’ve got to give it to (Apex) coach (John) Hayden. He had a heck of a gameplan defensively.”
Jordan players hung their heads as they packed up their gear, realizing their season was over. But Sliwa’s message was simple.
“If nothing else. I’m incredibly proud of them,” Sliwa said. “At the beginning of the year, I highly doubt anybody would’ve looked at us and said, ‘You guys would be playing Apex in the state semifinals.’ What they ended up doing is incredibly impressive, regardless of the end result here.”
Schmidt was hurt in a preseason scrimmage, and it took time for the Falcons to gel. A tough schedule, including in their conference, toughened the Falcons. In the playoffs, Jordan beat Raleigh schools Middle Creek and Panther Creek before taking down East Chapel Hill to reach the state semifinals.
“We realized that even though Thomas was hurt, and we’d lost a great player, we’re still a great team,” Helwig said. “I’m more than proud of the group of kids we have and tight everyone became and how far we made it.”
NCHSAA 4-A Semifinals
Apex 10, Jordan 2
Jordan 0 0 2 0 — 2
Apex 3 2 3 2 — 10
GOALS — Jordan, Jesse Melton 1, Cleveland May 1; Apex: Colby Lalicker 3, Chandler Besser 2, Jakob Harrison 2, Mike Daum 2, Brendan Farrell 1.
ASSISTS — Jordan: Melton 1; Apex Jack Hayden 1, Dayton McGough 1. SHOTS–Jordan 21, Apex 26.
Records–Jordan 8-6, Apex 19-2.