The Charlotte Catholic girls lacrosse team advanced to the N.C. High School Athletic Association’s championship game each of the past two seasons only to fall short of their goal of a state title with crushing defeats.
They got back to the championship game this year after a 23-1 season where they reached 13th in the nation in Maxpreps.com rankings. Facing an Apex team with a chance to finish off their three-year quest the right way, the squad was ready.
When the time came – and in much the same fashion as she’s done in each of her three years as the Cougars’ leading goal scorer – junior attacker Natalie Wallon delivered in crunch time, scoring what turned out to be the winning goal with less than seven minutes to play.
The goal capped off a miraculously successful season for Wallon and put the final touches on all she’d worked for over the past three seasons.
“Each year my role has kind of shifted and now it was my turn. I loved that part of being a leader for this team,” she said. “I was a captain and I loved being an upperclassman getting to lead the team and be more in control. I knew I was ready to take on that role this year and hopefully I can do it again next year being a senior.”
With Wallon returning for the final chapter of her illustrious career –which has already placed her on the short list of the state’s all-time greats – the Cougars will certainly be in the mix.
Wallon began her assault on the record books and quest for a championship as a freshman when she tallied a team-high 62 goals. She scored 99 times last year, and this season – her second as the South Charlotte Weekly Girls Lacrosse Player of the Year – Wallon was simply sensational.
She scored 120 goals and had 69 draw controls, 68 takeaways, 55 ground balls and 16 assists – all eye-popping numbers even for Wallon, who has become one of the state’s best and most accomplished players to ever grace a lacrosse field.
A three-time all-American, this year Wallon became one of two North Carolinians to be named a Group 1 U.S. Lacrosse all-American, an honor bestowed to 22 of the top girls players in the nation and for good reason.
Wallon has already earned the ninth- and fifth-highest single-season scoring totals in state history – her 120 goals this year rank just eight shy of the state record – but winning and being part of a team are what drives her.
“I don’t like to focus on stats, but it’s cool to make a name for yourself in high school,” Wallon said. “It helps and is an inspiration to work harder.”
Wallon is even further honing her craft this summer by working on becoming a better shooter and fine-tuning her offensive skills that have already earned her a commitment to Syracuse University.
“I’m definitely working on shooting,” she said. “The older you get the better the competition, the better the goalies and everyone is getting better. I think my offense is something that I’m always going to have to be working on, especially when I go to college where the intensity and skill will be even better.”
With an improved offensive game, Wallon will make a serious run at the top two career goal scorers in North Carolina history – she’s 136 goals from second place – and return to lead the Cougars as they try to reach the championship game each of her four years on the team.
“This year I think we all came together, everything fell into place and we were able to get it done,” Wallon said. “It was so exciting and it was such a relief to have finally won it – like all of our hard work from the last three years paid off. It was awesome to finally win it and to know what it feels like to win a state championship. Hopefully we can do it again.”