Target Rich Environment
It’s a great time of the year as Tuesday and Wednesday nights provided a target-rich environment for the SoundLacrosse staff. Eight games in eight different parts of Puget Sound kept everyone hopping. Many of you followed the live game reports on www.twitter.com/soundlacrosse and photo galleries will be available soon at www.soundlacrosse.com.
Nathan Hale at Seattle Academy
For those of you that don’t know, this game was circled on everyone’s calendar because of the evolution that occurred between the 2013 & 2014 rosters. Last year, Nathan Hale won the D2 State Championship with a victory over Garfield. The way the eligibility lines were drawn last year, if you attended University Prep, you played lacrosse for Hale. If you attended Seattle Academy you played for Garfield. This year both UPrep and Academy boys play for the new Seattle Academy team. Lots of teeming undercurrents were likely to appear here. (BTW, in keeping with last week’s Atticus theme, this game featured two Aidan’s. Just sayin’.)
Nathan Hale was left with a great program but a young team. Coach Kris Snider returned to the helm and there are plenty of bodies but only five seniors. However, one of those seniors is Will Snider, fresh off being named Master of the Universe for the week. Snider figured to be key to the Raider’s offense if they were to succeed.
But Seattle Academy had plans of its own. After losing two-time all-conference junior midfielder and captain Riley Johnson to a broken jaw last week, you might think the Cardinal would need to regroup. Instead they just reloaded.
Hale hung close for the first quarter. Their defense, led by seniors Andrew Bailey and Aiden Iodice, were able to keep the Cardinal attackmen from rolling to cage and getting their hands free. Freshman goalie Keaton Austin, in just his second high school game, held his own, finishing with nine saves on 20 shots.
But as the game wore on, Academy’s experience proved to be too much. The sharp passing and shooting overwhelmed the Raiders as Aidan Lawry chipped in three goals and David Funes popped four for the Cardinal. Middie Parker Woo added one and got two assists as Seattle Academy worked the ball well in the second half.
Academy’s defense shut down the aforementioned Snider for most the game, yielding him just two unassisted goals, and all-everything goalie Andrew McCall added six saves to his league-leading goalie stats.
The Raiders face off next Thursday in a key Metro D2 battle, then travel to Bainbridge for a test of the D2vD1 theory. They’ll be battle tested for their playoff run. Academy has their biggest D2vD1 test as they travel to also undefeated Eastside Catholic. Don’t miss it! <see update below>
Bainbridge at Eastside Catholic
The Bainbridge Island Spartans made the trek across the sea to the Sammamish Plateau to face the undefeated Eastside Catholic Crusaders. Bainbridge is coming off a heavy graduation year, they’ve only got five seniors on this year’s roster. And they’re suffering from a little population dip as well, with only 27 kids in the high school lacrosse program. Longtime Coach Jack Visco (13 yrs) has a young team, with several freshmen getting significant minutes. Their high school experience consists of games against Bellevue, Skyine and Overlake. A big baptism of fire.
Eastside Catholic finds itself in the exact opposite position. Their coach is new, and the team is a little long in the tooth. Their core group of seniors has been playing Crusader lacrosse together now for four years. They know what to expect from a D1 lacrosse season and are playoff-hardened. Expectations are high, and the fact they’re on their 4th coach in four years, won’t slow them down as current Coach Gordon MacIlvennie has been elbows deep in this program for years. The players know what need to be done and their coach knows how they need to get there.
The game started with a faceoff win by senior Jeff Foreman (2gb) and a quick unassisted goal by Blake Lee (2g). Faster than your shampoo bottle could say ‘Rinse, lather and repeat’, the Crusaders won four more faceoffs and scored four more quick goals. Senior Ross Komenda (4g, 2a) had three of them and sophomore attackman Bryce Atwater (3g, 2a) got the other. It was 5-0 Crusaders and they really never looked back. They are as deep as any team in the league and probably as talented as well, sporting what, already six NCAA lacrosse commits? Throw in that five of them played in the state football championship as well and they are clearly a team to be reckoned with.
The half ended with the score 9-1 in favor of Eastside Catholic. Colin MacIlvennie , on the opening leg of his farewell tour, started the 2nd half with a nice lefty rip, but then Bainbridge started to get their feet underneath them. Jack Frickleton, Thomas Daniels and Ben LaRoche popped in one each on some nifty moves to pull within 11-4. But Eastside’s senior netminder Colin Schriever (9 saves) shut them down the rest of the night. The Crusaders mopped up a bit and the game ended 17-4.
After a couple of non-league games, Bainbridge moves into the urban part of their schedule which is likely to be a little friendlier to their won-lost record. Eastside Catholic hosts fellow Metro undefeated team, the aforementioned Seattle Academy, in a game that will give us all a glimpse of the difference between good D1 & good D2. Should be interesting! <Late breaking game score from Thursday night – Eastside Catholic defeats Seattle Academy 22-5 to remain undefeated>
Bellevue at Eastlake
Eastlake’s stadium has a spiffy new color high-tech scoreboard that tonight periodically reminded us that Coach Chris O’Dougherty is the reigning Washington State Coach of the Year. Tonight’s annual game against Bellevue, where Coach OD cut his teeth as an assistant, had a sharp undercurrent of emotion between the programs. Mutual respect but not much actual “like.”
The Wolves came off a disappointing performance against Mercer Island and hoped to do better against another powerhouse team. This was my first look at Bellevue this year, and it was interesting to seewhat kind of offense they put together around All-Staters Hank Bethke and Eric Haehl, both NCAA D1 commits. The Wolverine defense looked to be solid, as they returned a plethora of poles and have two top goalies splitting time.
Eastlake drew first blood, as freshman Cullen Payne (2g) made a case for the “phenom” label. Sophomore goalie Abe Escarda (12 saves) got some great stops to open the game, but Hank Bethke (4g, 4a, 3gb) stepped in front of a clearing pass, and took the ball down to beat Escarda one-on-one and tie the game. This would be repeated several times. It’s easy to be underwhelmed with the eight turnovers the Wolves had in the first quarter. But to do that shortsells the ferociousness of Bellevue’s ride. It has got to be among the best if not the best in the state, and Bethke stole two more passes and turned them into two more goals on his way to a natural hat trick and four overall goals in just the first quarter.
The Wolves suffer another setback as junior captain Dalton Stahl had to leave the game with a concussion caused by a questionable and uncalled blow to the head. He would not return. The Eastlake offense struggled to find a rhythm after that and doesn’t do much more for the first half, thanks in large part to senior Bellevue goalie Cole Cansler (4 saves, 67%). Bellevue’s Eric Haehl (3g, 1 gb) wielded a beautiful double split dodge and found himself alone in front of the cage from where he just floated one into a corner to put the Wolverines up over the Wolves 7-2 at the half.
Bellevue stretched its bench in the second half, attackman Chase Birkeland landing a couple of nice goals from seven yards out. The Wolves never seemed to find a groove and time of possession worked its way into Bellevue’s favor. The Wolverines seem to have found the answer to replace last year’s senior faceoff duo, as Ryan Eastes (6gb) and sophomore Andrew Choe (6gb) combined to win 14 of 17 and gather 12 ground balls between them.
Ultimately, Bellevue won the game 11-3, but these are both teams that are going to represent Kingco in the playoffs. Bellevue now faces a tough non-league game Friday night against BC’s Claremont school, looking to avenge a thumping handed to them in the Space Needle Shootout. Meanwhile Eastlake’s schedule was front-loaded and the next several league games are very winnable. Look for them to make a mid-season run, with big games at Skyline and with Lake Washington.
Lake Washington at Skyline
Speaking of Skyline and Lake Washington, these Kingco D1 foes faced off Wednesday in a drivng rainstorm of loveliness. Led by senior attackman Hank Schmale, Coach Dejon Hush and his purple Kangaroos were fresh off a one goal victory over rival Bothell-Inglemoor. Skyline, featuring first year coach Sam Hutson and All-American Fairfield-committed LSM Spencer Noonan, came in with a 1-1 league record. For such an early season game, this one definitely had playoff implications.
The game came down to runs before the ends of each half. In the first, the teams traded goals back and forth, leaving the game tied at three with two minutes left in the half. Then the Spartans’ Andy Hutchings (1g, 9gb) buried one, followed almost immediately by Tyler Johnston (1g, 2a) to put Skyline up 5-3 at the half. The momentum carried through halftime and Noonan (12gb) was all over the field gathering every ground ball. In the third quarter Skyline freshman Thomas Hoke (2g) helped his team build a five goal lead, 8-3.
The rains ramped it up a notch, the field got even more miserable, and everyone was content that this was turning into a clear Skyline victory. Everyone but the Kangaroos, that is. They came on with a run of their own, with sweet goals from Schmale (3g, 1a) and Connor Campbell (3g, 1a.) Between the pipes, big boy senior goalie Aidan Isaacson (9 saves) suddenly turned away every Spartan efforts. Skyline’s play turned sloppy, the Kangaroo defense solved the Spartan two-man game, and suddenly with two minutes left in the game Coach Hush had his team within one.
Skyline took a timeout and set up a play to kill the rest of the clock. Lake Washington had other ideas. Somehow they wrestled the ball away from Skyline not once but twice in the final minute and found themselves on a fast break with time running out, looking to send the game to overtime. Two quick passes and a dodge to within 10 yards and they ripped a shot low. Which is where senior Skyline goalie Rob Hild made his fifth and final save of the half.
The rally was snuffed, the rains came down and the cheers went up as Skyline holds on to win by one. At this point of the season it looks as if they’ve won a crucial tie-breaker for the Kingco playoffs, but it’s pretty early to tell.
The Spartans face a couple of tough games in this weekend’s NW Invitational followed by a tough league game with Mercer Island. Lake Washington joins the Invitational this year as well with games against Faith Lutheran (NV) and Southridge (OR.) League play resumes after that and they’ll look to regroup for a good playoff run.