19.8 faces 15.4

by

By McNutty

moon shotIt was gorgeous warm night, a spectacular pink Mt. Rainer was out and a brilliant moon was on the rise, as over 300 people showed up at Tahoma High School to witness something beautiful they’d never seen this year.

A good game.

The Titans of Auburn-Riverside (formerly Lake Tapps) brought 10-0 league record to the game, and an average margin of victory of 19.8 points. That’s not “average goals scored in a game”, but the average margin of victory. Their closest contest was a season-opening nailbiter against Stadium, in which they squeaked by 17-4. Their host for the night, the Tahoma Bears (formerly Maple Valley,) sported an 11-0 record, with a modest 15.4 average margin of victory. Although, to be fair, they had a 1-0 forfeit over South Kitsap, a team A-Riv beat 28-0. Regardless, these were two teams that dominated their conference.

More photos available here from Soundlacrosse. All proceeds go to WA lacrosse charities.

Similar to the playoff situation in Kingco, the SPSL seeding is coming down to the final week. It’s a two team race, A-Riv and Tahoma are undefeated and battled tonight for the top-seed. Emerald-Ridge Puyallup (ERP) is right behind them with an 8-2 record, mostly likely looking at the #3, but not mathematically out of it yet. Top seed is valuable as it give you a first round bye and a chance to rest your bones. There’s no doubt these three have proven to be the top teams in SPSL, dominating every statistical category. The top five conference goal scorers are from these three teams (and 8 of the top 10.) The top 10 points leaders are all from either ERP, A-Riv or Tahoma. And, of course, they have the top three goaltenders in the league, each saving at over a 60% clip. The SPSL is totally dominated by these three teams this year. Additionally, Tahoma’s junior attackman Hudson Taylor leads the state in goals scored and A-Riv’s senior captain Michael Lucchesi has the most points (goals+assists) of any player in Washington.

Unfortunately, the Bears would have to work tonight without Senior Captain Dane Barber. The attackman was injured in the mop up time of an 18-2 victory over Klahowya on Saturday. He came straight from surgery tonight to watch the game. As the third leading scorer on the team,the #7 assist man and #11 points scorer in the state, he would be missed.

dustin and quinault
Freshman Quinault Mackey #18, is stuffed by Tahoma goalie Dustin Hendrix.

The gathered fans were hoping they were in for a treat this evening, and they were not disappointed. The Titans came out fueled by adrenaline, and were the aggressor early on. But the emotions seemed to get the better of both teams, and play was feverishly ragged. A-Riv finally caught a fast break, and on a “one more” pass from Michael Lucchesi (3a, 2gb), Jake Braden (1g, gb) scored the game’s first goal. A few minutes later, all-everything freshman Quinault Mackey (2g, gb) caught an errant pass on the crease and put the Titans up 2-0.

At this point, it seemed like A-Riv was handling the pressure of a big game better than Tahoma, but not by much. Neither team was successfully executing their set offense, but the Titans were handling the fast-paced, loose ball game a little better. However, 2nd year Tahoma coach Brian Johnson did a masterful job at keeping his boys’ heads in the game and not panicking. Finally Brody Sullivan (3a, 2gb) found Taylor (3g, 1a) and the first quarter ends with A-Riv up 2-1.

faceoff
Drew Wallen, #14 faces off for Auburn Riverside against Tahoma’s Joe Donahue

Sloppy play continued for the rest of the half, although it looked as if both teams were discombobulated by having to catch and throw with a defender all up in their hands. Plays that worked against lesser opponents weren’t successful, and shots that had been uncontested all season were getting either prevented or rejected.

You can’t imagine how much fun the goaltenders were having, just happy to be active and important in a game. A-Riv’s Jaron “Subway” Scarbrough (7 saves on 16 shots) had never seen more than 9 shots in any league game, but tonight he would see 16 and would be in charge of defense that was working hard. Tahoma’s Dustin Hendrix (10 saves on 16 shots) has had two shutouts this season, which is normally unheard of for a high school goalie. But he only saw a total of seven shots in those two games, and the 16 he faced tonight must have felt like he was drinking out of a firehose.

After senior captain Joey Lucchesi (2g)  slipped a check in front of the crease and bounced in A-Rivs third goal, Tahoma called timeout and Coach Johnson settled his boys down. The Bears came out and started to dominate strictly on the success of crisp passing and ball control. They got their set offense working and ran off four unanswered goals, highlighted by Taylor’s high rip from 13 yds out. The first half ended with Tahoma up 5-4.

defenseless player
Tahoma gets penalized for a hit on a defenseless player.

The second half started with “Subway” making some great saves for the Titans. He’s a stout netminder and led the league going into this game with a 65% save percentage (I know, I know, Mrs. Ehli, but your boy hasn’t played enough minutes yet.)  Oh the other side, Tahoma’s Hendrix is impressive as well, quickly making great clearing decisions and passes after each save, denying A-Riv’s defense the time to set up any effective rides. And Hendrix led the league in save percentage coming out of the this game, sporting a 61% save percentage.

Eventually Trevor Larsen (3g, 1a, 3gb) buries a 2 on 1 fastbreak goal and Tahoma goes up 6-4.  Attackman Larsen, just a sophomore, was a difference maker all night, able to get his hands free in traffic and put good shots on the cage. Tahoma gets a man up goal after an A-Riv hit on a defenseless player. It was an appropriate call this year, but it wouldn’t have been a penalty last season so the visiting fans got a little, uh, perturbed. But almost immediately A-Riv’s Drew Wallen (1g, 3gb) answered, pulling the Titans back within two, 7-5. Also almost immediately Tahoma got hit with a flag for their own rough play, drawing a three-minute unreleaseable for a hit to the head. Lucchesi to Lucchesi gave A-Riv a man up goal to get the Titans to within one, 7-6, but that was the closest they’d get the rest of the game.

The fourth quarter began with every fan in the stands asking the same question; “Why isn’t the clock running? We’ve never seen it stopped in the 4th quarter before?”

The quarter is uneventful, with Tahoma’s stick skills being the difference in tonight’s game. A-Riv looked frenetic and undisciplined, and got beat on seemingly every meaningful groundball. A lone tally end of the game in the 4th quarter by Dominick Barger (1g, 2gb) gave Tahoma the 9-6 victory, the #1 seed and the first round bye. Tragically, however, their average margin of victory drops to an almost embarrassing 14.3 goals. Oh, the horror.

Tahoma’s regular season is done, they now get to rest until Thursday the 22nd, when they’ll host a quarterfinal playoff game. Auburn-Riverside now faces a Friday night contest at Emerald Ridge-Puyallup. Their loss tonight means that Friday’s game will determine the #2 & #3 seeds in the conference. It’s  the difference between traveling up north next Tuesday night to face undefeated Sehome-Bellingham or hosting a hot Lake Washington team who finished their Kingco play with five straight wins. The great news for the Bears is, from here on out, every game will be competitive. The running clock is now a thing of the past.

More photos available here from Soundlacrosse. All proceeds go to WA lacrosse charities.

One Response to "19.8 faces 15.4"
  1. Since you seem to be so biased, and yes I am the father of said goali, letss look at last years standings and oh…….how about shots on goal this year! Yeah, thats what I thought! Minutes mean nothing really look at action and team strength. Lets be real!

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