And so it begins.
On a perfect night in Washington the 2013 Boy’s lacrosse season kicked off with four Non-League contests across the Sound. Kennedy Catholic hosted Peninsula-Gig Harbor, and the Lancers rode hat-tricks from Sebastian Ferraro, Anthony Parker and Ashton Pieris to defeat the visitors 9-8. Tahoma visited Woodinville in a Division 1 battle, with the Falcons winning by one as well, 7-6, capitalizing on three goals by Tanner Shepherd and a four point night from Edward Pollon.
And in a game televised live by The Lacrosse Network, upstart Division 2 powerhouse Seattle Prep faced off against Division 1’s Sammamish-Newport. If you didn’t watch it live, you can watch the archive here. As you may have heard, TLN’s doing a bunch of Washington High School Boy’s and Girl’s games this year. Tonight’s broadcast showed what a treat it can be, sitting inside in front of a computer watching lacrosse on one of the most beautiful nights of the year. Shame on you! Get your tail outside, you can’t beat the excitement of a live game, and besides how are the refs going to get better if you’re not there to point out all their missed calls? Anyway, in a bit of an upset, Seattle Prep doubled-up Sammamish-Newport 6-3 to stake out some bragging rights over Division 1 lacrosse. Watch the replay, and pay attention to Prep’s sophomore Sam Kopf, #12. He’s the real deal.
For the intrepid souls that braved the sunshine, the best experience in Washington lacrosse is the annual season opener on Bainbridge Island, and that’s where the SoundLacrosse crew was Friday night. If you’ve never made the trip to the Island for a lacrosse game, you really owe it to yourself. Packed stands, great hamburgers, lacrosse illuminati, and a rematch of 2012’s quarterfinal playoff between Bainbridge and Bellevue made for a great evening under the stars.
The Bainbridge Island Spartans are looking for a big year from a team that graduated only one senior. Jake Knostman, an attackman who last year set the all-time state record with 119 points, anchors an offense that hopes to be potent all year long. Reynolds Yarborough, goalieman who burst on the scene as a 2011 freshman who started in the State Championship game, will direct a defense packed with veterans. Expectations are high, and most everyone expects that Bainbridge will be there at the end of the year, vying for the State Championship.
Bellevue entered this game sporting their new State Champions rings from 2012. Having graduated 12 seniors from that team, most the questions seem to concern the Wolverines’ defense. But they return two studly long-sticks in Andrew Matthews and Blake Backer who seemingly bring enough Varsity experience to successfully lead this year’s crew. Bellevue suffers no shortage of offensive firepower in attackmen Hank Bethke and Cole Johnson, two D-1 commits and midfielder Simon Jenkin, who might be the quickest faceoff man in the state.
This game kicks off and it quickly becomes apparent that these two teams are not as rusty as expected. The movement is quick, the passing crisp, and the two motion offenses are able to whip the ball around wherever they please. Knostman got Bainbridge on the board first, on his way to a two goal, three point night, and the local crowd was fired up and having a good time.
Many people would say that between Knostman and Bellevue’s Bethke and Johnson, this game featured the top three attackmen in the state (although I suspect Mercer Island’s Grant Preisler might have something to say about that.) But, when BI’s defense focused on Bellevue’s most noted attackmen, shutting them out in the first quarter, they learned how deep the Wolverines are on offense. The third attackman, Senior Will Penner, making his first varsity start, scored two in the quarter, on his way to a hat trick. Not a bad way to introduce yourself to the league.
The rest of the half belonged to the Wolverines, outscoring the Spartans 8-3 before the break. Jenkin and Joe Finnell dominated the faceoffs, winning 68% on the night, which made it hard for Bainbridge to get any rhythm going. They struggled to find another threat besides Knostman, although sophomore Max Wickline revealed a bright future with two second half goals.
But tonight the 2nd half belonged to Bellevue’s Johnson. He tallied six goals (on seven shots) and two assists on the night (4 and 2 in the second half) and was seemingly unstoppable in front of the net. Yarbrough made ten saves on the night, but his defense wore down underneath the balanced Bellevue attack.
The game finished much more lopsided than anyone predicted, with the Wolverines winning 14-6, making a strong case that they’re reloading not rebuilding. Their defense, seemingly young and untested, held the Spartans to only nine shots on the night. But the story is that the Island delivered yet again a great opening night for the lacrosse community. The atmosphere in the stands, the smiles on the faces and the enthusiasm on the field reminded us all it’s time to bust open the handwarmers, put on the team scarves and get out from in front of the computer, because lacrosse season is finally here.
Statlines of the night:
Bainbridge – Knostman (2g, 1a), Wickline (2g), Yarbrough (10 saves)
Bellevue – Johnson, (6g, 2a), Penner (3g), Jones (2g) Bethke (1g, 2a)