CF lacrosse’s Senior Night extra special for Venazios

cflax-celebThe Carolina Forest lacrosse team celebrated Senior Night on Monday as 13 upperclassmen who helped build the program into a state power were honored before their match with North Myrtle Beach. But that was far from the highlight of the night.

In a match that was halted in the first quarter due to thunderstorms, the two local lacrosse teams pulled together to display the ultimate act of good will. With the cooperation of the North Myrtle Beach coaching staff and players, Carolina Forest was able to reward two of its own with a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

Star player and senior Joe Venazio, the state leader in goals-scored this season, and younger brother Ryan, a special-needs student at Carolina Forest who has served as an assistant on the team for the past four seasons, were allowed to connect like never before on the field and create a magical moment for the fans who braved the weather.

The Panthers called a timeout and called and Ryan’s number as he entered his first-ever game action. Joe fed his brother the ball and Ryan did not hesitate to score his first and only career goal. The moment saw cflax-nmbRyan and Joe swarmed by teammates and coaches, and even congratulated by members of the opposing team.

“It was rewarding to the team, the parents and the Carolina Forest community to see Ryan and Joe take the field together,” Panthers coach Will Loftin said. “Ryan shows up to every team event and has wanted to ‘score goals just like Joe.’ It was an extremely emotional thing to see Joe assist Ryan in scoring his first goal.”

The feel-good moment served as the perfect finish to a night in which Carolina Forest was able to celebrate the seniors who helped turn a program that won only two games in their eighth-grade seasons to a state playoff contender in their final year.

It also served as a good example of sportsmanship by the Chiefs, a first-year program that can take encouragement from seeing that their hard work can help build the foundation for success.

“The North Myrtle Beach coach, Bill McDermitt, was thrilled to be a part of this, as was his team,” Loftin said. “The North Myrtle Beach players were just as excited as we were and made this all possible.”

A completion date for this game has not yet been scheduled. State playoffs are scheduled to begin on Tuesday, April 18.

Photo by Missy Johnson

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