McNutty Covers the Quarters
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Two of this weekend’s D1 quarterfinal games were rematches from 2014 quarterfinal battles that were memorable, groundbreaking and controversial. When Mercer Island went into Eastside Catholic’s home field, it did so as the heavy favorite against a Crusader team desperate to prove they belonged. They did, stunning the Islanders 19-11 and keeping them out of the semifinals for the first time this century. When Skyline visited Bainbridge, they thought they had cracked the lock that the top four (Bainbridge, Issaquah, Bellevue and Mercer Island) had on the championship game. But a four goal lead and an overtime game winning goal both disappeared on a controversial offsides call that ultimately brought the police to the stadium. Could Eastside Catholic and Bainbridge prove tonight that 2014 was no fluke?
Mercer Island at Eastside Catholic
The Crusaders brought 10 players from the 2014 team that defeated MI, so they weren’t going to be intimidated by the mystique. The Islanders returned 11 from that game, all seniors, and all itching to revenge the prior loss. Both teams sport first year coaches, so who knows how much “Remember the Alamo” was in their pre-game talks? But 21 kids remembered, even if the coaches did not.
The first quarter went fine for the Islanders. Despite getting trounced on faceoffs, they recovered nicely and got their offense into a groove, scoring on goals from Jonny Vandervelden, Ian Kelly-Hedrick and Mitchell Mandt. Senior Ezra Tillinger threw in three saves, the defense communicated well and the first quarter ended with MI up 3-2. Things were fine, right?
Not in James Wehe’s mind.
The senior, who as a sophomore scored two goals in the 2014 win, scored twice on the opening minute of the 2nd quarter and all of a sudden the Crusaders had the lead. The Islanders tied it up in the middle of the quarter, but in the last two minutes Joey Matte, who was still in diapers in 2014, rocketed in two and the Crusaders never looked back. He and Wehe would finish with 4 goals each, with Wehe adding two assists. Joey Matte’s biggest contribution might have been winning 17 of 22 faceoffs, which never really let MI get back in the game. A huge fourth quarter led by Bryce Atwater (2g, 5a) let the Crusaders cruise to a 12-6 victory. The first victory was proven valid, and if I had a vote, EC has earned its way into the top WA programs. Congrats to first year coach Charles Goodman, who played at Bainbridge and Western WA University. The Crusaders host Issaquah Wednesday night at 8pm for a chance to reach their 2nd finals in four years.
Skyline at Bainbridge
Oh my gosh did this reek of a revenge match. Skyline returned six players who were there for the overtime win that wasn’t and I’m sure they were loaded for bear. A chance to crush the dreams of Bainbridge, the unworthy semi finalist of 2014? Bring it on.
Well bringing it on in the postseason is exactly what Coach Jack Visco and his merry band of late bloomers have been doing for years. In 2014 Visco used 16 underclassmen to defeat the Land Spartans and 14 of them were back itching to do it again Friday night. The Island Spartans only suffered two instate losses, Eastside Catholic and Issaquah, and as usual Coach Visco had them ready to play. Skyline’s Coach Sam Hutson had navigated his boys through the treacherous Kingco division to the #5 seed, but they wanted more tonight.
Bainbridge’s Meritt McMahon (2g,1a) found senior Ben Biggers (2g,1a) to start things off, which is typical for the attack driven IslandSpartan offense. Along with Jack Frickleton(3g), these three lead the team in scoring, and it would be no different tonight. Bainbridge jumped out to a quick 4-0 lead, spreading the ball around enough to get goals from four different players. But at the end of the quarter Skyline comes roaring back with three goals in the last three minutes. After Nolan Eggert scores at the start of the 2nd, we’re all tied at 4-4. Quite the comeback and Eggert actually puts Skyline up 5-4 with his second of the quarter with a sweet question mark dodge and shot. But the IslandSparts reel off four in the last five minutes to take an 8-5 lead into halftime.
The impression is that Skyline is more athletic and faster but Bainbridge is getting it done with a better lacrosse IQ, especially on defense. Their defense presses out very high, but has the confidence to know that they are covered if their man beats them. It works well in the third quarter, holding the LandSparts to one goal while pumping in three, extending their lead to 11-6 after three quarters. The Spartans trade goals three times in the fourth and Bainbridge records a 14-9 victory. They travel to Bellevue Wednesday night for their semifinal matchup with the Wolverines.
In the late games in D1, Issaquah got by Kamiak 12-5, the Knights finish with a great 14-2 record . And O’Dea’s season ends with a quarterfinal loss at Bellevue, 14-1. D1 quarterfinals in your program’s third season? No shame there.
That wraps up the D1 quarters, we’ll get our semifinal preview out ASAP, but make plans to get to a Wednesday game.