Sky Rockets in Flight – by McNutty

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More photos from this and lots of WA High School lacrosse action are available at SoundLacrosse. Proceeds go directly to NW Lax Charities.

 

So the big Afternoon Delight game has come and gone. Bellevue hosted Mercer Island in an afterschool game played on a beautiful sunny day. There were no streakers, no foul language, no one got bullied and everyone made it home in time for dinner. If only they’d thought ahead enough to get all the players Participation Trophies, it would have been a perfect game. There were roughly 650 fans in attendance, most of them students, which is less than half of what this game normally draws, but it was still a loud vibrant crowd. The school still hired policemen who marched around with school officials, but who cares, we had a great lacrosse

I see you.

game to watch.

What a difference a week makes, eh? Last week, Bellevue slunk out of Crusaderland with a six point loss and a lot of questions. Eastside Catholic rode that victory into a Hindenburg-esque performance at The Jungle on Mercer Island, turning a 6-1 lead into a 13-9 loss. The Islanders came out of that game smelling like an undefeated rose, and Bellevue was wondering “How bad are we?” The Wolverines tiptoed into Issaquah on Saturday, played three quarters like the 4th best team on the Eastside, then parlayed a four goal deficit with 8 minutes left into an overtime victory.

Now all of a sudden the battle with the Islanders loomed even more important. With a win, the Islanders (17-0) would move one game closer to that elusive perfect season. But if Bellevue could sneak out an underdog victory, they would snag the Kingco #1 seed and a first round bye.

Unlike most big contests, which start with both teams doing a lot of sniffing around, but not much else, this one started with a bang. 90 seconds in, Bellevue sophomore midfielder Augie Fratt levered around MI’s Jack Counihan and dunked a diving shot past Ezra Tillinger. Yes, he landed in the crease, yes, he was pushed, yes the ball passed the goal before he touched the crease, and yes, the first goal of the game was spectacular.

Can you find the ball in this photo? What a shot!

(BTW, how about this photo from SoundLacrosse founder Michael Jardine?)

I’m sure a lot of fans had an idea of how this game was gonna go, but none of them saw that coming. Or this. On the ensuing faceoff, the ball got pushed, kicked and scrummed around from midfield all the way down to the Islanders crease, where goalie Tillinger reached to scoop it, missed and stared stunned as it trickled into the goal, just past his desperate diving reach. What?!!? A 2-0 Bellevue lead on those two plays? Fortunately, referee Keith MacFie properly called goalie interference on Bellevue, and waived off the goal. It stayed 1-0.

Saved from a fluky deficit, the Islanders went down and settled into their offense. Senior Mitch Stickney evened the score with a blistering shot from 12 yards, and the whole Islander bench exhaled, while their throng of student fans cheered wildly on the far side bleachers. (Hey, how come I never heard the term “Snail Pound” until now? What a magnificent name for MI fans, I love it, and will claim it as my own from now on.)

The Snail Pound was spectacular all game long.

The two teams ping-pong possessions and goals throughout the quarter which ended in a 3 -3 tie. Mercer Island seemed focused on outside shots from set plays and crisp passes. Bellevue looked dedicated to dodging from midfield and the speed from their young middies seemed to give them an edge. The 2nd quarter started a little less frenetic and it felt as if it would be more of the same, back and forth, trading goals.

In actuality however, the 2nd quarter would prove to be the difference in the game. Freshman Matt Marino, on his way to a hatter, went top shelf off an alley dodge. Cameron MacMahon found a cutting Chris Callison on a 7 yard rip down the right alley. Minutes later, Joe Bethke duplicated that same play and result, feeding Justin Angelel, and all of a sudden the Wolverines had a three goal lead.

The halftime score was 7-4 in favor of the Wolverines. The two teams would play the rest of the way even and the final score would be 13-9, with the Islanders never getting closer than two goals. Bellevue’s youthful midfield gave MI fits all game long. Fratt, Marino and Angelel, (Sophomore, Freshman, and Sophomore) accounted for 8 of the 13 goals. MacMahon added two, as did Callison, and Joe Bethke added one with an assist, switching between attack and midfielder often during the game.

Evan Condon (#17) cranks one of his four goals on the day.

MI’s Evan Condon tried to put the team on his back and he gave a yeoman’s performance, scoring four goals. Stickney added two, although was battling a twisted ankle for much of the game. Both goaltenders played well, Cole Bouwman garnering  11 saves and led the Wolverines in  a pretty successful clearing game. Ezra Tillinger did all he could, managing 13 saves, but in the end, it was the defense’s inability to adjust to Bellevue’s speed that did them in. The Wolverines got their hands free for 42 shots to the Islanders 24, and it’s tough to ask a goalie to rescue you that many times. The weird stat of the day was that the faceoff men from both teams got flagged for illegal procedure five times each. Clearly the referees had a different idea on what was allowed on faceoffs, and the boys will want to get that figured out before the playoffs start.

With the win, Bellevue locked up the #1 seed in Kingco, earning them a first round bye and some homefield advantage. Mercer Island will face Issaquah on Friday night to decide the #2 and #3 seeds. It promises to be an exciting run through the D1 playoffs, with lots of teams and their fans seeking retribution and revenge. Hopefully the school administrations learned this afternoon that lacrosse can be and usually is played in a non-threatening yet high-energy environment. And that’s a good thing. Now let’s let it happen in front of even more fans. The Snail Pound deserves the chance.

More photos from this and lots of WA High School lacrosse action are available at SoundLacrosse. Proceeds go directly to NW Lax Charities.

2 Responses to "Sky Rockets in Flight – by McNutty"
  1. Thanks so much for your fun articles- You are an excellent and entertaining writer, and you address some of the issues that lacrosse faces in this state, as well as playfully calling out some of the self-inflicted problems- all in a lighthearted and real manner. Great pictures, too!

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