Championship Day McNuttins by McNutty

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First off, in D2 Lake Washington beat Juanita 8-7. In D1 Mercer Island beat Bellevue 11-8. If you’re looking for a recap of the championship games, quit reading this and go here. Mike McQuaid and his crack stats staff, led by Austin Boyd, have done a fine job recapping both these great games. We’ll focus on a few observations from the final weekend of the 2015 lacrosse season. As always, you can find great photos of Championship Day at www.soundlacrosse.com. Proceeds from the purchases go to a NW lacrosse charity.

Here’s links to everything you could possibly want from the festivities on Championship Sunday:


Okay, on to a few random thoughts from Championship Sunday:


In the D1 Bellevue v. Mercer Island finals, did anyone else have flashbacks from 2010? Check out this photo from that game:

2010 Flashbacks as Bellevue’s Dan Ellis and Sam Leggett force a turnover inside of a minute left in the game.

Let me explain what you’re looking at. It’s the 2010 Championship game. Mercer Island has a one goal lead and we’re down inside two minutes left to play. Bellevue pulls their goalie out of the cage and sends their best two long pole defenders to double team the ball, which is behind the Bellevue goal. They force MI against the endline, the yellow line in the picture above, cause a turnover, and take the ball down to tie the game and send it to overtime, where Ryan Deal wins it for the Wolverines.

Flash foward five years to Sunday night’s 2015 D1 Championship. With 1:15 left in the game, Mercer Island has a one goal lead. As the ball goes behind the Bellevue goal, the Wolverines pull their goalie and send their best two long pole defenders to double team the ball. Sound familiar? But look what happens this time:

Evan Condon breaks the double team and scores the back breaking goal.
Evan Condon breaks the double team and scores the back breaking goal.

In the highlighted area of the photo we see that MI’s Evan Condon is mugged, and actually loses the ball. But he fights to pick it up, splits the two defenders, wins the race to the front of the empty net, and puts the game away for the Islanders, giving them a two goal lead. We were potentially a ground ball and a stickcheck from Ground Hog Day, i.e. history repeating itself. Unbelievable how great the rivalry between these two teams is.


MI’s Evan Condon breaks the double team and seals the victory

Speaking of Condon, who admits he has “a chip on his shoulder” when it comes to Bellevue, (and who could fault him?) I have never seen a player put a team more on his back than Evan did in this game. He played offense, defense and faced off. He willed his way through those faceoffs and ground balls, and wouldn’t let his teammates give up or let down. I’m more than okay with him going to West Point next year, that’s the kind of guy we need defending our country.


Ezra Tillinger’s doorstep save on what would’ve been the tying goal by Bellevue’s Joe Bethke, late in the 4th quarter.

As we all know by now, I’m the curmudgeon who points out that faceoff wins and saves don’t correlate to victories. I still know that to be true, but it doesn’t mean that they aren’t important influences on the game’s momentum. In the D1 game, MI’s Ezra Tillinger only had 8 saves, but 4 of them came in the 4th quarter. Bellevue’s Cole Bouwman had 12 in the game, but only 1 in the 4th. While Bellevue won the 4th quarter faceoff battle (5 to 4) Condon’s wins at the end of the game kept the ball away from the Wolverines. The perception of saves and faceoffs seemed to pressure Bellevue into panicking on the offensive end, which then spiraled into a self-fulfilling prophecy.

In the D2 Championship game, Lake Washington couldn’t buy a save, garnering only three on the night. Juanita’s Brogan Bartch had 8 of them but the Rebels went begging for faceoffs in the 4th quarter. The Kangaroos’ Kendell Jensen won 71% of them for the game and led the Purple Ones to three unanswered 4th quarter goals and the victory.

Faceoffs and saves are important, they just don’t correlate with victories. Momentum, now, that’s another story…


 

Juanita Coach Steven Lytle, on a much soggier day

The D2 Championship featured two teams started by Steve Lytle facing each other. He founded the LW program then calved off the Juanita program this year. That had to be quite a headrush and is a great credit to a man that has quietly given so much to Washington lacrosse. Plus he was just named 2015 Washington State Lacrosse Man of the Year. So he’s got that going for him.


 

But hats off to Coach Dejon Hush, who I think garners his first state title as a solo head coach. We all saw firsthand how hard it is to beat a team three

Coach Dejon Hush

times in one season. It took a herculean 4th quarter and a great winning goal by Sasha Oelsner to get the trophy to the Kangaroos. Congrats to the hippest coach in the state.


How can you not adore the “Juan Love” sign?

Let’s talk for a minute about the crowds and the stadium…From my view through the knothole, this venue change worked great. Given a choice between the concrete of Memorial Stadium, and the Starfire Athletic Complex, I choose Starfire. Yea, it wasn’t perfect, yea Sunday might not have been ideal and yea league-wide communication could’ve been better. BUT, I thought the two championship games in the big stadium benefited greatly from the smaller venue.  Crowds were announced at 1476 for the D2 game and 2235 for the D1. More importantly, there was no big DMZ of blocked out seats in between the schools’ fans. Everyone intermingled and sat next to each other, AND NO ONE DIED. Take note, overzealous administrators. The fans added to the game, you can make a credible point that the Mercer Island Snail Pound carried the team during their 4th quarter comeback.  Juanita and Lake Washington students had very spirited and vocal rivalry going the whole game. There were cowbells, drums and Vuvuzelas, AND NO ONE DIED. Please take note of this school Athletic Directors; state lacrosse championship games are a good thing. Work hard to make more of them, not fewer.


And finally, on to less important things…continuing on my rant against the lack of contrast in uniform numbers, I defy you to tell me who this player is:

How can Mom be proud of her son when she can't identify him?
How can his mom be proud of him when she can’t identify him?

And the camera is like five feet away! Here’s a link to the video… give it a try live!

My griping is all in good fun, wear what you want to wear. But geez, folks make it hard on all the old eyes in the stands funding these teams…


Lastly, if you didn’t watch the D1 All-Star game on Sunday, you missed several amusing post-goal celebrations (“cellies” as the young whippersnappers say today) including this one.


Here’s links to everything you could possibly want from the festivities on Championship Sunday:

Pictures from the D2 Championship and the All Star Games

Pictures from the D1 Championship

Video broadcast of the D1 Championship Game

 

3 Responses to "Championship Day McNuttins by McNutty"
  1. great recap but another year and another “big 4” lineup in the finals. this is exhausting if you’re not Issaquah, Bellevue, MI or BI. zzz. When will the state of WA get it together and just even the playing field? Get it together wIAA.

    • So if you were king, what would you do to fix things? It’s the off season, let’s entertain ourselves with some discussion. If we put you in charge, how would you “level the playing field “?

      • Well, issue #1 would be why lacrosse isn’t yet a varsity sport in the state of WA. Is it fields? Insurance? Lack of participation? General apathy from athletic directors/administrators? Or maybe it’s just a conflict of interest between the governing boards and WIAA? As far as I know (which admittedly isn’t much), it’s a combination of a lot of the aforementioned but regardless, when you look at the last 20 years, as much as the sport has “grown” here, the same 4-5 teams are always the one’s in the playoffs. Now while that may be great if you’re one of those teams that are consistently hoisting the trophy, wouldn’t it be better for the sport as a whole if there was more parity? I realize I’m simplifying things quite a bit but getting to the root of the problem should be issue #1. We can start there…

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