Latin lacrosse players achieve goal of becoming state champions
by Andrew Stark
When senior attack Drew Papadapolus was in the eighth grade, his teacher asked him to write down a goal he wanted to accomplish while at Charlotte Latin. Papadapolus was recently returned the blurb he wrote in 2008, the year after the Hawks had last appeared in a boys lacrosse state championship game.
“The note said he wanted to play in the state championship game for ‘Coach Sip,’” said Hawks coach Dick Sipperly. “And look at that: Here he is helping to win one for us.”
Papadapolus and his teammates closed out a magical season on May 19 by beating Raleigh Ravenscroft, 12-5, and winning a state championship. It was the Hawks’ second N.C. Independent Schools Athletic Association title overall and their first since 2005. The Hawks (17-2) scored six goals in the final period of the state title game after closing the third frame with a slim 6-4 lead.
Senior Seth Portaro and junior Will Donohue paced the Hawks with three goals each, and fellow seniors Carson Clough, Papadapolus and Marshall Burlingame added two scores apiece. The 2012 Hawks weren’t about individual goal scorers, though.
Six Hawks scored at least 20 goals on the year, and as long as the ball consistently found the back of the net, nobody seemed to care who was putting it there.
“It is not about the guys who are scoring the goals; it is about the six guys out there on offense working together, and the same thing goes for the defense,” Sipperly said. “That is what it’s all about. If you have more guys than the other team can defend, you are probably in pretty good shape.”
Clough tallied 26 goals and 42 assists on the season, leading the Hawks in points. But Donohue (46 goals, 17 assists), Portaro (38, 22), Burlingame (36, 12), freshman Carson Song (24, 24) and Papadapolus (20, four) also played large roles and contributed to the offensive attack that recorded 190 goals and 121 assists.
“It was a total team effort,” Portaro said. “We couldn’t do what we did without everyone contributing. We are all pieces of a puzzle, and we really mesh well together. There is not a real standout player; we all share the wealth, and that has really helped us this year.”
Sipperly said the balance on offense, along with the play of senior Will Gardner in goal, formed a one-two punch that made the Hawks’ season so successful.
“We had six guys on offense who could finish,” Sipperly said. “Carson Clough had almost 50 assists on the year and was the catalyst that made our offense go. Guys recognized that it wasn’t all about scoring; it was about getting everyone involved.
“And Will was fantastic. He is very quick and bought into what we were doing very early on. I think he had a really fun season.”
The Hawks had a fun season as a team, and as many of the players look back on the state championship that had eluded them in other sports, they’re proud of what they accomplished.
“I have had a struggle with state championships,” said Burlingame, who also played on the football team. “We have been close in football multiple times, but it never happened for us. To have it happen in the last season of our senior season, it is just amazing.
“Winning this title is awesome. It was definitely a total team effort, and it’s just a great feeling knowing we are state champions.”
Other members of the Hawks roster include seniors Alex Almquist, Will Almquist, Will Armstrong, David Belk, Chris Jones, Sims McMaster, Harris Oates and Hadley Wilson; juniors Louis Stephens, Sam Wilson and James Thorp; sophomore Carter Sheridan; and freshmen Tim Vorhoff, Emerson Schaeffer, Denzel Pearson, Owen Armstrong, Clifton Mathis and Jackson Monnin.
Sipperly said he is happy to bring the Hawks their second championship and is optimistic as he looks toward the future of Charlotte Latin boys lacrosse.
“It’s all about building the program and developing the players,” Sipperly said. “The JV and middle school coaches have done a great job, and we have 90 guys in our lacrosse program right now.
“The JV team had just one loss, to Charlotte Catholic. The future looks bright, and it’s a very exciting time for me and the program.”