It probably won’t surprise you to hear that I watch a lot of lacrosse. As I point out to Mrs. McNutty, there are worse vices. I could have a mistress, be a degenerate gambler or a drunk. She probably wouldn’t care which vice I chose, actually, they would all get me out of the house and out of her hair. But I choose to watch lacrosse. That’s fine with her, but my friends, however, are always scratching their head. And they are continually confused by
the fact that I watch so much Division Two lacrosse. “Isn’t it just bad lacrosse?” they ask, trying (unsuccessfully) not to sound elitist, “isn’t it boring when they can’t even pass and catch?” This, of course proves they’ve never seen a DII game and probably never will. And that I should consider getting better friends.
Let’s all hold hands and agree on the obvious: there truly is a difference between good DI and good DII. To the untrained eye, i.e. mine, the difference is the speed. The rhythm and pace of the game is definitely faster at the upper echelons of D1, the Issaquahs, Bainbridges et al. This requires players to have a high lacrosse IQ, a field presence that is a bit more developed than in the less experienced programs. Stick skills have to be assumed and ground balls have to be an acquired habit.
But that doesn’t mean at all that it’s not enjoyable to watch a pair of well-coached, evenly matched D2 squads go at it. Because they go at it hard, with the same commitment and enthusiasm that the players from Bellevue and Mercer bring to the game. As long as the teams are evenly matched, the game is entertaining whether it’s DI, DII or JV. Which is the major reason I’ve been grumpy about this year’s league configurations; there are too many mismatches. (On Tuesday Bellarmine Prep beat Penninsula 17-5. The following Monday they lose to Tahoma 18-0. How are these three teams playing league games against each other? But I digress…)
Monday night the Shorecrest Scots, the first place team in the Wesco/NW – DII division visited the Meadowdale Chiefs who were yet to win a game. At first glance perhaps you’d think another spanking was in order, and if you looked at the final score, 18-7, you might think you made the correct decision in staying home to watch your DVR’d American Idol. But you’d be wrong.
Both these teams are solid, and combined to put on the best DII game I’ve seen so far this season. First year coach Nathan Wirtz has Meadowdale playing a pretty ambitious level of lacrosse. His men have the stick skills and have a solid understanding of positioning and spacing.
Likewise Coach Steve Weaver, of Shorecrest, has his men understanding the roles of each position, and taking care of their individual responsibilities, which is what a team is all about. Both these teams have recognizable offenses, which they all ran the whole game. They have clear man-up plays and man down responsibilities. They can ride and clear, often beating their opponent’s rides. It made for a fun game to watch.
In the end, my opinion is that the Shorecrest offense has a little more firepower. Sophomore midfielder Briggan Weaver (7g, 7gbs) is pretty legit.
Senior middie Aidan Bradner handled faceoff duty well and was a good field general. And the Scots’ goalie, Payten Brooks-Neal, shut down many lasers on his way to a 13 save, 65% night. The Chiefs goalie, Conner Daniel, threw down 18 saves in only three quarters and could probably play on any team in the state. The same is true of Meadowdale’s captains, defender Niko May and midfielder Jordan Tindall. These two combined for 17 ground balls for the night, and have both committed to play East Coast NCAA lacrosse at Mount Olive.
But my favorite play of the night, which came in a losing cause, was when the Chiefs were behind by nine, and gasping for air in a man-down situation. Somehow they snagged a loose ball, and forced it upfield, where I’m sure Coach Wirtz was screaming at them to kill the remaining penalty time. But junior attackman Charlie Baillargeon, recognized he had a mismatch and a numbers advantage. He swooped across the middle and greased a perfect lefthanded shot into the corner giving Meadowdale a rare man-down goal. It would have been a beautiful play in any league in the state. You should have seen it.