By John Lowe, For the Dominion Post
MORGANTOWN — The University High boys’ lacrosse team cruised to a 12-4 win over Wheeling Central Catholic on April 24 behind a first-quarter hat trick by Quinn Napolillo.
The Hawks midfielder shook off his “shooting slump” by finishing with five goals off seven shots in the rout.
“It was kind of a breakout game for him,” UHS head coach Brian Houk said. “He really stepped up, took that senior leadership role, placed his shots great and had five goals. I was really proud of him. He had a great performance.”
Napolillo started off the scoring almost immediately, finding the back of the net a little over two minutes into the game.
With just under 5 1/2 minutes left in the first, he struck again, and about three minutes later, he scored from the left side of the goal line extended to clinch the hat trick.
Coming out in the second quarter, the Hawks (8-2, 4-0 WVSLA Division 1) didn’t let up, keeping the scoring going with a Nate Gibson goal under two minutes into the period. Sam Snider followed up with a couple of goals about a minute from each other to put University up, 6-0, in the second quarter.
To close the half and while a man down, UHS defenseman Riley McCord rumbled across the field on a fast break and scored from 10 yards away to send the Hawks into the locker room with a 7-0 lead.
“That was great,” Houk said. “Riley’s a shooter. He’s had a few goals in his career. He had one earlier this year against Capital. He’s just so big and strong and his arms are very long. It’s tough for a goalie to track that ball. He just does what he does.”
The Knights (8-4, 4-2) started to rally in the second half with Derek Dearth finding the back of the net 46 seconds into the third quarter.
Napolillo responded a couple of minutes later to regain a seven-goal lead, but Mason Smith scored with 5:25 left in the third. The third quarter was the only period where Wheeling Central outscored UHS.
In the fourth quarter, Dearth scored again for the Knights, with 9:29 left, and Chase Edgarton followed suit on a man-up goal to close the score to an 8-4 Hawks lead, with 8:43 left.
“We knew at halftime that they were going to come out swinging,” Houk said. “Central’s a really good team and we knew they were just going to lay down.”
Eleven seconds later, Reis Snider scored for UHS, and Antonio Mascaro followed with another less than a minute later.
Napolillo and Mathias Turner tacked on a couple more goals late in the fourth to ice the game for the Hawks.
“We talk about responding well to adversity all the time with just good body language and hard work, and it starts with our senior leaders,” Houk said.
University outshot Wheeling Central, 31-24. Hawks goalie A.J. Adams picked up eight saves.
UHS will head to Martinsburg to face the consolidated Berkeley County squad on Friday. Wheeling Central will host Morgantown High on Thursday.