Richland vs. Garfield
In a battle of unbeatens, the Richland Coyotes came over to face the Garfield Bulldogs on their home field. Over three quarters, Richland outscored Garfiled 6-4. Unfortunately for them, a regulation game is four quarters. The Bulldogs rode an eight goal 2nd quarter to a 12-7 victory and a trip to the State D2 Finals for the second year in a row.
These two experienced teams battled hard and showed how good Division 2 lacrosse has become in the state of Washington.
The Richland boys didn’t let their 2nd quarter lapse affect their morale and the second half was all Coyote. But the hole was too deep. Garfield’s Jackson Lanning found lots of time and room all game long, which let him put up five strong goals. The Richland defense held Cedric Rhodes to just one goal, but the senior fed his teammates, scoring five assists. Montana Reed, Siam Owen and Eliot Frank all scored two, showing that this Garfield group is just too deep to be contained.
In the net, senior Danny Strick showed what a meaningless stat a goalie’s save percentage is. To the casual fan, Strick’s four saves against seven goals allowed seems like a bad day at the office. But Strick and his defense held Richland, a team averaging 16 goals per game, to just 11 shots. 11 shots. That is a good day’s work right there.
The Bulldogs now advance to Memorial Stadium on Saturday, hoping to slap their name on the Championship trophy this year. Seasoned by last year’s defeat at the hands of Snohomish, Garfield and their class of seniors will go into the game as the favorites, one victory away from a perfect season.
Nathan Hale vs. Ballard
Simply too much Will Snider.
The junior captain had six goals and ten points as he led the Raiders storming into Saturday’s Championship game with a 14-3 victory over the Ballard Beavers. Sophomore goalie Andrew McCall stood on his head, saving 14 of 17 shots, shutting down a potent Ballard offense that had been averaging over 11 goals per game.
Don’t forget that Ballard is just in their third season, and Coach Brian Main had his squad in the semi-finals, knocking off teams along the way that had been around for much longer. The program is thriving and he’s sure to get the Beavers back to the playoffs next year as well. Congrats on an impressive run.
For Hale, they return to the finals for the first time since 2000. Head Coach Drew Snider brings the Raiders to face his former high school team, having played for the Garfield squad during their heydays of 2005&6. Drew now leads the Denver Outlaws in the MLL, and will try to bring that level of success to his boys on Saturday. Can they pull off the upset? Hale yes!
Eastside Catholic vs. Bellevue
In the opening quarter of this game, freshman Crusader attackman Chase Bultez (5’6, 125 lbs) swept across in front of the Bellevue crease and was promptly leveled by junior Wolverine defenseman Chris Medzegian (6’1, 205.) Medezegian turned without looking back and ran upfield while Bultez lay wondering if the baseball team needed another center fielder. It was that kind of night for the team from Eastside Catholic.
Forced by injury to rely heavily on their underclassmen, the Crusaders got serious minutes from seven freshmen, starting three of them. Bultez recovered fine, clearly not intimidated by the Wolverine big bodies as he continually staked out his turf in front of the crease. But those seven freshmen collectively contributed zero goals, zero assists, and one ground ball. D1 semifinals are a tough place to succeed when you’ve got that many 15 year olds playing a bunch of 18 year olds.
EC did its best to play the hand it was dealt, slowing and controlling the tempo as much as possible. Passes around the perimeter (and in some cases just standing with the in the corner of the box) kept the ball out of the sticks of the Wolverines and the score 1-1 after one quarter. It was a slim Bellevue lead 3-2 at the half.
Bellevue’s Dakota Jones drew the assignment of locking off junior midfielder Colin MacIlvennie, and he shut down the Maryland commit, limiting him to one late goal. But MacIlvennie found other ways to contribute as he garnered three assists, including two gems to junior Blake Lee.
MacIlvennie also provided some epic battles with Bellevue attackman Cole Johnson, whom he guarded one on one several times. These two All-Americans went head-to-head in a man’s war, taking full advantage of the freedom granted by the referees, banging, shoving and checking with abandon. It was gruesome yet beautiful to watch. Water cooler arguments about who is the best lefthanded lacrosse player in the state will probably continue, but on this night, Johnson’s four goals and an assist, along with the team’s victory, settled the issue for now.
In the end though, the seasoned Wolverines gave the young pups their comeuppance and Bellevue stretched out its lead through the second half. Hank Bethke had five points and a hat trick, and Bradley Medeiros was solid both in the cage and in leading his defense.
Bellevue now heads to the Championship final on Saturday night seeking their third state title in four years, and their second in a row. They’re riding a three game winning streak over the Islanders and it’ll take a yeoman’s effort to make it four.
The Crusaders finish a very successful season (13-3) with the Metro Conference title. They rose above some early season drama and adversity to prove that they are a program to be reckoned with. Could they be the team to crack the Big Four’s stranglehold on state championships? I’ve got a feeling that’s exactly what Chase Bultez has planned.
Bainbridge at Mercer Island
The other D1 semi-final featured a rematch of the Island War held a scant four weeks earlier. In that one, the Islanders rode senior Steen Swedstedt’s four goals to a 9-6 victory in a game that was back and forth until the fourth quarter. Bainbridge’s wily head coach Jack Visco hoped to make adjustments learned from that game and achieve a different outcome this time.
And Visco’s magic worked from the opening whistle. The Spartan defense stymied the Islanders, forcing turnovers and eliminating even the chance to shoot. MI couldn’t get their hands free or find the net when they did. But their zone defense continued to shine as they were also able the frustrate the Bainbridge offensive attack.
But not as much as the referees did. In the 2nd quarter Spartan senior Greg Shea had a goal blown by the three man crew, as it bounced in, then out of the cage, unseen by anyone wearing stripes. So officially, each team scored a meager goal in each quarter and the first half ended tied 2-2.
The 3rdquarter belonged to the Spartans who some senior love from Kaegan Ingrasci and Max LaRoche. Their goals put the Spartans up 4-2 as the third quarter wound down. But with eight seconds left, senior Hayden Reisman snuck one past All-State goalie Reynolds Yarbrough to make it 4-3 Bainbridge going into the last frame. The momentum carried over and the Islanders banged in two to take the lead with nine minutes left in the game. The teams traded goals but with four minutes to go junior Jackson Larkin tied the game with his second goal of the night.
Yarbrough fought off a fierce Islander attack in the quarter as his defense tired and gave up 24 shots in the 4th period alone. But he showed why he’s been anointed the best goalie in the state and kept the game tied as the clock expired. He would finish with 18 saves on the night.
Overtime has not treated the Spartans well in a while. Since 2005 they’ve lost extra-session games twice to Issaquah, once to Eastside Catholic, and three times to these very Islanders. With a history of 0-6, the word “Overtime” casts a darkness over the hearts of the Bainbridge faithful.
This time, however, the darkness was cast over all the faithful. After Bainbridge won the faceoff and took a solid shot, stopped by MI’s Benji Rothenberg, the whole field went dark as a transformer blew and the stadium lights went out. The transformer was reset but the lights had to cool down before they could be powered up again and the teams waited 15 minutes or so to resume. Thirty seconds into the restart, cutting off a nice pick, Reisman buried an eight-footer off-stick and high past a heartbroken Yarbrough.
0-7 in Overtime.
“One has to put their team in a position that a potential error does not
determine the games outcome, and we did not do that,” said coach Visco after the game. “Our team has lived by the motto ‘One chance, no regrets‘ and I believe that quote is applicable here. Both teams played hard, the fans saw a great game and in the end, Mercer Island earned the right to be at the championship. I wish their coaching staff and players well going into their final game of the season.”
Mercer Island now heads to the Championship game that the pundits predicted in February. A rematch with the Wolverines. They’re seeking revenge for the 2010 Championship game loss in overtime. Revenge for the 13-2 drubbing at home in last year’s semi-final. And revenge for the 9-8 loss at Bellevue earlier this month. It’s going to be a battle. Don’t miss it.