Games of the Week, by McNutty
Blanchet at Garfield
Monday night saw a nice doubleheader for die-hard Puget Sound lacrosse fans. The opening game was held at the Genesse Park field , as the Garfield Bulldogs, favored by some as this year’s D2 champions, finally open league play against the Blanchet Braves. Blanchet is in just the opposite position, having reeled off four games in the previous seven days to start their season with two wins and two losses.
And ultimately, that was the story of the game. Blanchet looked road-weary, emotionally drained and not as polished. Four games in a week doesn’t leave much team to practice, and coaches Jake Director and Riley Gervais looked like they would have loved some more time to teach.
The Bulldogs looked rested and growling, even though they were without acclaimed senior midfielder Carl Barnes, who is still nursing an injury. But Captain Reid Kenney (5g, 1a,6gb) juniors Jackson Lanning (3g, 7gbs) and Cedric Rhodes (3g,3a,1gb) picked up the slack and carried Garfield to an easy victory. Blanchet’s Matteo Schiro (2g, 1a, 6gb) tried to rally his team, but ultimately there was too much Bulldog in the fight. The day belonged to Garfield as they move to 1-0 in conference play.
Wednesday night finds Garfield hosting Nathan Hale as they try and catch up with three games this week , including a Friday night match up with Tri-Cities powerhouse Three Rivers. Blanchet faces Shoreline (0-1) on Thursday, then will have some much needed time to regroup and improve their game performance.
There’s a lot of lacrosse to be played in the next few weeks and the two Metro conferences are shaping up to be battlegrounds with 12 teams sniffing for six playoff spots. Tonight’s foes are sure to find themselves in the middle of it in the weeks to come.
Lake Washington at Skyline
A quick dash to the Sammamish plateau revealed the night’s second game, an early-season, meaningful game between Lake Washington and Skyline; two teams likely battling for similar playoff spots. Lake Washington is trying to show the league that they belong among the top teams. Skyline, after a short-handed upset by Eastlake, wants to right their ship and capture their first victory.
Skyline sports shooting shirts the read “ΔΟΞΑ”, a Greek word from the shields of Spartan soldiers that means “common belief” and “Glory.” Skyline is the only WA school to have two D1 commits playing together with Jack Pruitt (Denver) and Max Saffle (Air Force). They and the team’s fifteen upperclassmen want to dispel any rumblings that theirs is a football-only school. 2012 is the year they believe in glory.
The early tone is set when Saffle jumps Kang goalie Jonah Friedl and is called for a hit to the head that puts Skyline man-down. But the storyline is set immediately when the Spartans freshman goalie, Kyle Kuberski starts en fuego, as the kids say. Or Στη φωτιά, as the Spartan kids say. Regardless, Kuberski kills the man-down on his way to a 13 save night.
But Cody Bernstein, he himself headed to play lacrosse at Dominican University next year, crosses behind the cage, losing his defender in the crease and buries a right-handed wraparound shot that puts the Kangs up 1-0. It will be the last time until the 4th quarter that the Kangs will look like they can compete with Skyline.
What follows for the next 30 minutes of play is an exhibition in athletic lacrosse. Skyline is bigger, faster, stronger and lets LW know it every chance they get. Ryan McMackin (2g) bulldodges down the middle and scores from six yards out. Saffle (2g, 3a) rips time & room from 15 and the net screams in agony. Pruitt (3g, 1a, 3gb) twice sprints 80 yards, dodging through three defenders and, without breaking stride, rips shots that remind Friedl (9 saves on 22 shots) that they are in Sparta. Big, athletic and strong. As the third quarter ends 12-5, it seems like nothing can stop Skyline.
But that would be incorrect. It turned out to be the fourth quarter from, uh, Thebes, I guess, as the Spartans reeled from the punches thrown by the Purple Kangaroos. Bernstein (5g, 1a, 7gb) showed he had plenty left in the tank. Junior midfielder Carson Brown (3g,1a,2bg) added pressure as LW poured in six unanswered 4th quarter goals. With two minutes to play, and with LW Coach Dejon Hush demonstrating the effective use of decibels, Bernstein dodges from the left and shoots short pipe on Kuberski.
But his shot clangs off the iron and instead of pulling to within one, LW gives up a fast-break goal and ends up losing by two, 13-11.
Both Monday’s games had the feel of teams that may not be similar, but are equal. The athletes of Garfield and Skyline will still always have to contend with the team players from Blanchet and Lake Washington. Early in the season your studs can carry you, but team-play is what wins in the playoffs.