LandSpartans vs. IslandSpartans

by

by McNutty

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Coach Jack Visco’s boys are a different team from the beginning of the season.

Last night was a tough one for the SoundLacrosse crew. We had four D1 playoff games to cover, three of which seemed to be coin-tossers and they were spread out all over Puget Sound. Sehome-Bellingham hosted Emerald Ridge-Puyallup, Auburn Riverside hosted Lake Washington in Enumclaw, and, in the only game to feature teams that have only one word names, Bainbridge hosted Skyline. To top it off, it was a weeknight and we were short-staffed. We could only cover one game, so naturally, we chose the one with the best food, and hopped the ferry to Bainbridge to chow down on the Booster Club’s hamburgers.

You’ve heard it from me before, but it bears repeating; Bainbridge is probably the most dramatic example of a team that has improved over the season. Their roster includes eight freshmen and eight sophomores and now they have a full season of play under their belts. Skyline also has a young team, with 11 juniors, but tonight they too would rely heavily on the play of a freshman.

#13 Ben Laroche
#13 Bainbridge’s Ben Laroche faced-off and scored a goal

Bainbridge’s head coach, Jack Visco, is in his 13th Spartan season, with a gazillion State titles under his belt, both at Mercer Island and Bainbridge. Skyline’s Sam Hutson is in his 1st Spartan season, and is itching to make a run deep in the playoffs, if not actually capture his first championship.

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Skyline’s Jimmy Bucy shared face-offs as well as goal scoring.

Bainbridge jumped out to a relatively quick and surprisingly easy 2-0 lead in the 1st quarter. Ben LaRoche (1g, 1a, 5gb)  and Thomas Daniels (1g, 5gb) both net shots from the set offense and Bainbridge looked like they might make an easy night of it. But senior defenseman Spencer Noonan didn’t get where he is by letting his team panic and the LandSpartans settled down and began to control the IslandSpartans. Junior McKay Berndt answers the call for Skyline giving them their first goal. The teams then trade goals and with two seconds left in the 1st quarter, middie Jimmy Bucy scores Skyline’s third from the outside, and the quarter ends with the score 3-3.

Reynolds denies
Reynolds denies

All night long, Skyline dominated the face-off battle. In the first quarter, Bainbridge was able to cause turnovers and neutralize the face-off advantage. But in the second, Skyline totally dominated the time of possession. However solid defense by Vicso’s IslandSpartans, and some stellar cage-play by senior Reynolds Yarbrough (10saves, 52%) held Skyline frustratingly scoreless. You kept feeling like at any moment the dam would break and Skyline would go on a run, but Yarbrough said “No.” Ultimately, it was Bainbridge that broke the 3-3 tie, on a change-up from Jack Frickleton (3g, 2a,2gb) that dribbled into the cage. Bainbridge lead 4-3 with six minutes left in the half. A couple of minutes later, however, Skyline freshman Connor Hoke (3g, 2gb) introduced himself to the Bainbridge defense, taking advantage of a late slide, and showing why he has debuted as the team’s second leading scorer.

First half firepower
First half firepower

With time winding down in the half, the first of many unusual events for the referees occurred. Skyline ripped a shot to the upper left corner which appeared to miss just high. However, a whistle from the refs a conference at the goal, and a quick inspection that the ball had actually sailed through the net and hole needed to be patched. A zip tie and a Kyle Kuberski (8 saves 44%) save later, the half ended with Skyline leading Bainbridge 5-4.

The first half revealed a couple of things. First, Skyline’s Matt Riley (1g, gb)  and Jimmy Bucy (1g, 7gb) were dominating at the faceoff X, yet it wasn’t leading to many goals. They had a 9-2 faceoff advantage but only a 5-4 lead. Secondly, it was becoming very obvious that a few Skyline parents needed to calm down. The yelling, jawing and chirping of the referees was heard throughout the stadium, on both sides of the fields, and was completely inappropriate, regardless of how the game was being called.

Skyline’s Conner Hoke, #21, shows freshman promise.

The third quarter proceeded much as the second one. Skyline dominated time of possession and middie Riley put them ahead by two. But Bainbridge’s Jackson Larkin, after ringing pipe a couple of times in the first half, quick sticked one in to keep the lead at one.

A few minutes later, the referees had to stop play, walk off the field to the stands and speak with the fans. Either voluntarily or otherwise, one of the Skyline parents left the stadium. A very sad moment, that distracted from what was a very good lacrosse game for the players. Most everyone in attendance hoped that the problem had been solved.

After play resumed, Skyline opened up their biggest lead. Michael Cowin put them up by two, and then as the quarter ended, Hoke scored his 2nd. A three goal lead, 8-5 after three quarters, and Bainbridge looked gassed. Skyline’s got some big horses on the roster and it seemed like they were starting to wear the home team down.

Max Wickline makes it 8-9
Bainbridge’s Max Wickline pulls his team to within 1

Freshman phenom Hoke opened the 4th quarter scoring by completing his hat trick. Skyline held this four goal lead, 9-5, as the clock wound down towards the seven minute mark, and the light felt like it was fading on Bainbridge. Noonan and his boys started to exert dominance through their size and strength. What few shots made it through were handled routinely by Kuberski.

With seven minutes left in the game, Frickleton scored his second for Bainbridge to make it 9-6, but it really didn’t feel like the momentum shifted. The mountain was too tall, and Bainbridge had shown no penchant for climbing it. A little later, Michael Rose (2g, gb) greased a rope to pull his team to within two with four minutes left, but no one seemed to notice the confidence that Coach Visco had building within the Bainbridge team. Skyline still dominated the faceoffs but seemed to sleepwalk through their offensive sets, and a quick fastbreak by Max Wickline (1g,2a) pulled Bainbridge to within one with three minutes to go. Now, everyone started to notice, we had a game again.

Thomas Daniels scores the tying goal with 7.8 seconds left on the clock
Thomas Daniels scores the tying goal with 7.8 seconds left on the clock

Coach Hutson rallied his boys and they settled down to run time off the clock. Deliberate passing and thoughtful decisions ruled the next two minutes of play. But unfortunately, not the last minute. After an illegal body check penalty on Bainbridge, Skyline found itself with a man advantage, the lead, and the ball with 50 seconds left in the game. Instead of running out the clock, the LandSpartans decided this would be a good time to shoot. Yarbrough made not his hardest, but certainly his most timely, save of the game, cleared the ball quickly with precision and Thomas Daniels scores the tying goal with 7.8 seconds left on the clock. IslandSpartans had completed the comeback and had stolen all the momentum. The score was 9-9 and the game was going to overtime. For the first time in the game, the Skyline stands were silent.

Also for the first time in the game, Bainbridge won a critical faceoff. As they brought the ball down the alley however, strong defensive pressure forced the pass to sail high and over the endline. Turnover to the LandSpartans, who had to bring the ball up the length of the field. Bainbridge rode them hard, and the ball was on the ground a lot, as both teams tried to control it. Around midfield, Spencer Noonan put the team on his back, scooped the ground ball, and led a fast break down the middle of the field. In full stride he found a teammate on the crease who dunked it for the game winner. Skyline mobbed the goalie, helmets and gloves were tossed and backflips were done in celebration.

WA Lax buddies Spencer and Reynolds say hi to the refs at the midfield to start the OT period
#7 Reynolds Yarbrough and #24 Spencer Noonan, longtine friends and foes, take the coinflip to start OT.

Unfortunately, no one watched the consultation of the referees. After talking it over to get the call correct, the referees wiped off the game winning goal. Skyline was ruled to have been offsides on the play. No goal, and the ball is turned over to Bainbridge.

Clearly emotionally spent, both teams struggled to succeed in the ensuing minutes of play. Resurrected, you’d have thought Bainbridge could have ridden an emotional surge to a gimme goal, but the Skyline defense wasn’t giving anything. After a stop though, Bainbridge’s Michael Rose intercepted an inaccurate clear attempt at midfield and found himself in the middle of a 2 on 3 fastbreak. He hitched up his shorts, busted a move, swam through the double team and buried the goal that sent Bainbridge into the quarterfinals. A 10 to 9 overtime win for the IslandSpartans.

As you can imagine, it was a heartbreaker for the Skyline contingent. A blown four goal lead

Bainbridge’s Micheal Rose fights through Skyline’s tough defense for the game winner.

and a wiped-off game winner created some intense emotions on the sidelines and in the stands. Unfortunately, things got ugly. Rather than detail the ugliness, we’ll leave you with two thoughts…First, no matter what happens in a high school game, no matter how bad you think the calls were, if your behavior causes the referees to feel threatened enough to call the police for an escort to their cars, you’re doing something wrong. Secondly, we should all look to the example set by Skyline Senior Spencer Noonan. Here’s a young man, who just ended his high school playing career. He had to have been wrung through the wringer emotionally and probably felt he and his teammates were robbed. He also, as a backstory, was an All-American last year, and in my opinion got jobbed out of being one this year, which could have also left him feeling bitter about how his season ended. Additionally, there was plenty of mob-mentality emotion around the field at the end of the game and he could have joined in with that. But instead, 45 minutes after the game and his high school career were over, Noonan was on the sidelines, talking with the refs, his fans and his opponents, with a big smile on his face. He was enjoying the moment, knowing it was soon to be gone forever. He’s a class act and a great example for what’s good about this game. Be more like him.

 

9 Responses to "LandSpartans vs. IslandSpartans"
  1. Good afternoon– i was looking forward to returning home today, so i could sit back, relax, and read your recap of last night’s thriller: LandSpartans vs. IslandSpartans. As always, you always come through with the greatest sportswriting around (and photos), witticisms, and true support (and respect) for all the boys, no matter what the outcome. I’m an IslandSpartan (mom), and I sure appreciated your social commentary about fans (in general), and how LandSpartan Noonan (specifically) is a “class act and a great example for what’s good about this game.”

    Thanks for the great writing, and for making the trek to the island, to what proved to be one of the most exciting games (thus far) of the season!

  2. An offsides call 30 seconds late in OT and calling off a goal? Sounds like the “LandSpartans” got cheated… Amazing how the ref actually started the Bainbridge program and is still able to ref those games.

    • Hi Bob and thanks for your comments! Just thought I’d mention that same ref also ref’d the 2012 state championship game between Mercer and Bainbridge. He specifically asked Ian O’hearn (the MI coach) if he was ok with that. Ian had no problem with it. (MI won 5-3, by the way). And here’s another example of sportsmanship – at least, at the Coach level: Last year, Bainbridge lost to Mercer in the Semi-finals, 7-6, in Overtime. I was at that game. Both ref’s missed a BI shot that actually went into the net (and back out), near the end of the game. I was there. I saw it. We have photos of it. If those “naughty” refs had not missed the goal, the game would have never gone into overtime and Bainbridge would have played Bellevue in the State Championship game. Imagine how they felt. After the game, we asked Coach Visco what he thought about the call. His response? “If we had been ahead, it wouldn’t have mattered.” And here’s a quote from Coach Visco that appeared in our article about that game: “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.”

  3. As someone who watched that game with no allegiances I will say this…yes, the skyline fans needed to relax but that overtime goal should never have been waved off…neither ref made the original call and under the new offsides rule a middie taking one step across the midfield line 2 to 3 seconds after the ball is cleared is a non-call…The Bainbridge Assistant coach clearly ran onto the field to go after the refs and they changed the original call of goal…I can understand the Skyline frustration as it seems like these calls always seem to go the way of Teams like Mercer Island and Bainbridge and every other program is supposed to Just live with it…Great comeback by Bainbridge, bad clock management by Skyline, game deciding bad call by refs.

  4. I was also at the game. I thought the ref’s call was wrong, based strictly on the rules, which I have read thoroughly. New offside rules aside, the Ref’s didn’t even see the Skyline player go offside. They were relying strictly on the word of the BI coach and that is just wrong. I don’t understand how that call could have stood up under scrutiny…unless there wasn’t any scrutiny.

    That being said, Skyline giving up four points in the final quarter and not holding onto the ball for the last minute of play when they were still ahead by one point seems to me like bad calls by the Skyline coach. BI is a great team and being ahead 9-5 going into the 4th quarter is a gift not to be squandered. Skyline should never have been in the position they were in at the end of the game. The coach decided who was going to play and the coach was supposedly calling the plays. Maybe in retrospect, Skyline should have stalled and sat on the ball instead of shooting. Also, I was totally embarrassed by the attitude of some of the Skyline fans, as well as the reaction by the BI sideline staff and the refs. There seemed to be plenty of bad attitudes on everyone’s part…coaches, refs, parents, sideline staff.

    This is Lacrosse….honor the game. These are high school kids….set an example…a good example.

  5. BJ,
    Thanks for your thoughtful comment.

    My only feedback would be that we interviewed the official who made the offsides call in OT and he was adamant he saw the play and made the call. He was the trail official, and it’s his call to make. He counted seven offensive players forward, which is illegal, recounted, and then made the call. I’m unaware of any recent changes to the offsides rule that would allow seven players to participate in the offense. I asked and he verified this was not a “one foot over the line by a player on the other side of the field from the ball” call.

    As far as the refs’ attitude, I didn’t see or hear anything out of line, but admittedly, I am a bit of a homer when it comes to the refs.

    Thanks again for taking the time to comment.

  6. Thanks for your reply. It’s all water under the bridge (or ferry) now…but if the ref saw the offsides…where was the flag?

    • Ah, that’s a good question. It would have simplified things for everyone if there had been a flag thrown. But it would have been incorrect. Since the team with possession committed the offsides, there is no flag down. It’s simply a whistle and a change of possession. No flag, no time served. If you have possession and commit a technical foul, there’s no flag simply a change of possession.

  7. was not at the game but did see the video posted. Skyline was clearly offsides – there should be no argument there. The fact that the trail ref was slow on the whistle could have been that he was counting the players and wanted to be sure the count in a fast btreak before blowing the whistle. yes the call was late but it was the right call…isn’t that better than making the wrong call and sticking with it?

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