As the 2012 high school lacrosse season approaches here in Washington, tragedy has unfortunately again found its way into the Washington lacrosse community. Former Mercer Island standout and 2007 Team Washington member, Tim Wettack passed away in a tragic accident early the morning of February 20th.  Our thoughts and prayers go out to the Wettack family and the entire Mercer Island program.  

 

WettackvsTP.jpg

 

 

 

On the field, the WHSBLA continues to grow and this year 52 programs will field varsity teams.  Despite the continued growth, Division I faces some small growing pains as long time member programs Overlake and Vashon have been reassigned to Division II.  Each program faced various challenges in maintaining the number of student athletes turning out as each draws from a very small student body.   Combined with Seattle Prep’s reassignment to Division II, the dissolution and rebirth of the Lynnwood program (now Edmonds) and the promotion of last year’s Division II finalists (Sammamish and Woodinville), Division I is now home to 20 programs.  With all the shuffling, the biggest news may be that Mercer Island has shifted to the Southwest Conference to balance the alignment.

 

 

 

Division I Previews:

(In Alphabetical Order within each conference)

 

SOUTHWEST CONFERENCE

Bainbridge Island

The Spartans graduated 13 from a team that reached the State Championship last season and return just 6 players that saw action in that final game.  However, we’ve learned that this often means very little in terms of Bainbridge’s ability to be right back at the top.  A pair of junior attackmen, Jacob Knotsman and Kaegan Ingrasci should lead the scoring department.  Senior, Jason Ashton is the most polished in the midfield.  The Spartans certainly return more experience on offense but have sophomore sensation Reynolds Yarbrough between the pipes to back and give confidence to a young defense.  Bainbridge may find it hard to repeat as Southwest Conference champs with old rival Mercer Island joining them in conference, but the Spartans are still a Final Four caliber team until proven otherwise.

 

Bellarmine Prep

The former “Tacoma” Lions finally gained acceptance on campus and will now appropriately be known as Bellarmine Prep.  A bevy of talent returns giving the Lions a chance to breakthrough this season.  Senior, Zach Fuller is a beast on defense but this will be the end of the field in question.  No lack of talent and ability to score on the other end as the Lions top four scorers all return.  Seniors, Max Jones and Jacob Bolek and juniors, Garrett Stockdale and Connor McLeod combined to score 141 goals in 10 league games last year.  Bellarmine is a lock for the playoffs but will have to come together defensively to make it any further than they did a year ago.

 

Curtis

The Vikings could find themselves in a bit of a rebuilding year.  Gone are three of their top 5 scorers, Colby Carr, Quinn Moody and Dillon Cavanaugh.  Mitchell Homeyer, Cory Monaghan and Tony Nigh departed as well from the defensive end leaving Curtis with a wealth of inexperience.  Seniors Carson Stewart and Brandon Dean topped 30 points and 20 points respectively last season and the Vikings will have to rally behind that experience to reach the playoffs.

 

King’s Way

After two years of solid play and reaching the playoffs, the Knights are now a Southwest Conference staple.  The top 6 scorers are back including a pair of junior captains that are two of the best in the entire state that many haven’t seen.  Attackman, Jack Beall and midfielder, Clayton Frank played off-season ball with the Rhino Lacrosse Club based down in Portland.  Beall has great vision and is an excellent passer.  Frank is a pure rock of an athlete and will be hard to stop in the midfield.  The Knights will however need to rebuild a bit on the defensive end and have a big question to be answered in goal.  Junior, Nick Guinett returns as the most experienced long-pole.  King’s Way will undoubtedly be back in the playoffs and should push Bellarmine Prep for the 3rd spot behind Bainbridge and Mercer.

 

Lake Tapps

After a winless season two years ago, the Titans got off the snide in a big way last year rallying to capture the final playoff spot.  Look for Tapps to be in the mix for a playoff berth again after graduating just 5 players and returning five of their top 6 scorers.  Josh Davenport and the Lucchesi brothers (Joey and Michael) are all just sophomores but all are capable scorers. 

 

Lakeside

The Lions look to improve on a 2-8 conference record a year ago and graduated just two players so they may have the experience to do so.  Lakeside will need to find some scoring punch though having only two double digit point producers last season.   Lakeside will rely on their underdog status and a wealth of unknown to try and sneak up on folks.

 

Mercer Island

The Islanders finally recaptured the state title that eluded them since 2006, but graduated 12 players that all were key in bringing that title home.  The entire starting defense has moved on including goalkeeper Brian Bernstein.  Bernstein did all but stand on his head to make saves in the playoffs and having also graduated Bernstein’s back-up, the Islanders biggest question undoubtedly is in net.  Defensively, Mercer should be in good hands with senior, Connor Livingston and sophomore, Chase York.  Both could have started for several other teams but saw little time playing behind seniors and all-state caliber poles a year ago.  Senior Brett Tsang has the most experience on the defensive end.  The Islanders have no shortage of offensive talent returning All-American candidate, Connor Bernal in the midfield.  He’ll be joined by fellow senior, Alex Robbs and another Mahony, sophomore Peter.  Senior Zach Stickney and junior Grant Preisler lead the attack though word is Stickney may start the year on the injured list with a foot problem.  Mercer certainly appears to be the cream of the crop in their new home in the Southwest returning more on paper than rival Bainbridge.  Should be fun to see them battle for the top spot.  Islanders certainly have enough to make a run at a repeat as well.

 

Puyallup

Senior midfielder, Robert Abbot is one of the league’s best.  Unfortunately he hasn’t had much around him to produce many good marks in the win column.  Panthers went just 2-13 a year ago and graduated 8 from that squad so might be tough to reach any higher than that this season.

 

Stadium

The Tigers graduated nine, including All-American defenseman, Kevin Park and tough netminder Drew Thomas, from a team that just missed out on the playoffs.  Good news is they return their top two scorers; bad news is it may not be enough to get them back to the brink of the postseason.

 

Tahoma

The Bears story is much the same as Stadium though Tahoma made the playoffs last season.  They too graduated much of what got them to that position and though they return two of their top five scorers it may not be enough to get back to the postseason.  Senior, Desmond Decker is their top offensive threat as an attackman.

 

 

 

NORTHEAST CONFERENCE

Bellevue

On paper, this is the year of the Wolverine.  Bellevue graduated just two players from a Final Four team and the lineup is talent rich at every position.  The Wolverines have the potential to field a starting 10 that could each garner All-State consideration.  It starts in net with Austin Boyd, 2nd Team All-State a year ago.  Seniors Sam Legget (1st Team All-State) and Clayton Federspiel (2nd Team All-State) anchor the defense.  No all-state returners in the midfield, but senior Andrew Gulrajani and sophomore, Eric Haehl have that potential.  The attack pool is so rich for Bellevue that one of them will surely end up simply bolstering the midfield.  Senior Drew Douglas is the most likely candidate having run some midfield last season.  Much will also depend on the health of senior, Blake Samuel.  A talented finisher, Samuel missed almost all of his junior season with an arm injury.  He is surely eager to get back to action. He should join junior lefty, Cole Johnson and sophomore righty Hank Bethke.  Johnson is smooth and effortless while Bethke is an athletic jitterbug.  If the Wolverines stay healthy it is hard to find a team on paper with as much talent.

 

Eastlake

The Wolves captured a playoff spot last season by playing much improved ball the 2nd half of the season.  This year they look to bring a new attitude under new head coach, Chris Panos.  Senior Brian Quick returns as the most dangerous offensive threat.

 

Eastside Catholic

The Washington Stealth’s own Lewis Ratcliff takes the reigns as new head coach and will certainly bring a new style with some passion and fire to the Crusader sideline.  The graduation of Kyle Decker and all-around midfielder Michael Rambaldini will definitely hurt but the Crusaders boast a wealth of young talent including sophomore, midfielder Colin MacIlvennie whom recently committed to the University of Maryland.  MacIlvennie is no doubt a talent and has the ability to carry the Crusaders.  However, much is to be determined as to how much of a supporting cast he will have to help run with the deeper programs.   Fellow sophomore, attackman, Ross Comenda is the next most dangerous weapon.  It will be on the defensive end though where the Crusaders will need to improve to be a true contender.

 

Issaquah

After reaching the finals 4 out of 5 years from 2005-2009 the Eagles have sidetracked in the semis the past two seasons    Despite graduating eight, they certainly have enough talent to get back to that position but may not be deep enough to run with the likes of Bellevue and Mercer, especially on the offensive end.  Senior attackman, Matt O’Neill is as talented as they come with the ball in his stick and is the only of the top five scorers to return.  However, senior midfielders Ben Director and Duncan Hamilton are each poised for breakout seasons.  Issaquah does have depth on the defensive end.  Senior, Kole Lindor is clearly the state’s top LSM and is a definite game changer between the restraining lines.  Senior Austin Richert will anchor the close defense and O’Neil Hughes returns in net after having committed to Air Force in the offseason.

 

Lake Washington

The Kangs made waves right away, reaching the playoffs in year number one at the Division I level.  However, gone is half of the Bernstein brother combo as older brother Jake is now at Dominican University in California.  Younger brother Cody is clearly one of the most talented in the state but for Lake Washington to repeat its success of a year ago others must show that the year of playing in the Bernstein brother shadow has paid off. 

 

Mukilteo

Third coach in three years for Mukilteo as Mike Harlow takes the helm.  The Knights graduated just two players; one was a very capable netminder in Paul Linari so junior Nick Gregory must step up to fill his place.  Seniors Alex Okemah and Kevin McGowan have the talent to lead the Knights to the playoffs but must get some additional offensive support. 

 

Northshore

No more Wisman boys could mean far less wins.  Alex Bus also graduated leaving the offensive burden to junior attackman, Drew Tosaya.  The playoffs will be a tough reach for Northshore.

 

Sammamish

The Totems actually draw much of their talent from Newport High School.  After a run all the way to the Division II Finals last season, Sammamish graduated five key players including their best defenseman (Sam Chapman), their top two scorers (Tyvan Schmidt and Brian Headlund) and their top midfield/faceoff guy (Matt Young).  So, the Totems have their work cut out for them to see the same success in the Division I ranks, especially being placed in which many view as the tougher conference.  Junior goalkeeper, Mitch Williams and senior attack/midfield, Tyler Wright will have to lead the squad.

  

Skyline

A rollercoaster season for the Spartans in 2011 missing  the playoffs for the first time since joining Division I in 2007 despite beating Issaquah for the first time ever and playing Mercer Island to its second closest regular season game of the year.  Skyline could boast one of the best starting lineups in the league but needs to stay healthy as depth could be a huge issue and is what led too much of their troubles a season ago.  Senior, Jack Pruitt is the best transition midfielder in the state and has committed to the University of Denver.  Fellow senior, Max Saffle is also a DI commit (Air Force).  A big question as to who will step in goal.  Senior Cannon Gardner may fill the position though it would weaken their attack group if he moves.  Skyline should be back in the playoffs in 2012.

 

Woodinville

Lacrosse is now a cool thing to do in Woodinville after the Falcons brought home the Division II championship in just their 2nd year of existence.  They too will have their work cut out for them having graduated 8 players.  Junior Colter Clinch is the Falcon’s top returner, though it remains to be seen what position he will play.  He played attack in last year’s championship but has spent much of the offseason with a long stick in his hand.

 

 

 

2012 - Division I - Preseason All-State Teams

First Team

Second Team

Third Team

A

Jack Beall

11

King’s Way

A

Max Jones

12

Bell Prep

A

Cole Johnson

11

Bellevue

A

Matt O’Neill

12

Issaquah

A

Hank Bethke

10

Bellevue

A

Zach Stickney

11

Mercer Island

A

Max Saffle

12

Skyline

A

Blake Samuel

12

Bellevue

A

Jacob Knotsman

11

Bainbridge

M

Jack Pruitt

12

Skyline

M

Robert Abbot

12

Puyallup

M

Ben Director

12

Issaquah

M

Cody Bernstein

12

LW

M

Colin MacIlvennie

10

East Catholic

M

Andrew Gulrajani

12

Bellevue

M

Connor Bernal

12

Mercer Island

M

Clayton Frank

11

King’s Way

M

Drew Douglas

12

Bellevue

M

Alex Okemah

12

Mukilteo

M

Alex Robbs

12

Mercer Island

M

Brian Quick

12

Eastlake

LSM

Kole Lindor

12

Issaquah

LSM

Brent Tsang

12

Mercer Island

LSM

Nick Guinett

11

King’s Way

D

Sam Leggett

12

Bellevue

D

Austin Richert

12

Issaquah

D

Hayden Powers

11

Lake Tapps

D

Zack Fuller

12

Bell Prep

D

Phoenix Abernathy

12

Skyline

D

Drew Roberts

11

LW

D

Clayton Federspiel

12

Bellevue

D

Connor Livingston

12

Mercer Island

D

Spencer Noonan

10

Skyline

G

O'Neil Hughes

12

Issaquah

G

Austin Boyd

12

Bellevue

G

Reynolds Yarbrough

12

Bainbridge

 

 

 

Lacrosse The Country…

Several WHSBLA Alumns are off to great starts this year in the collegiate ranks…

·         Sam Snow (Bainbridge) scored a career high, 5 goals in Fairfield’s season opener.

·         A slew of Washingtonians took to the field in California this weekend as a total of 9 former WHSBLA players suited up when Dominican hosted NDNU.  The former Issaquah tandem of Kevin Powers and Jake Fritz combined for 20 points in the Penguins win!

·         For the second year in a row, Drew Snider (Garfield) and Landon Carr (Curtis) each scored in the University of Maryland’s early season win over Georgetown.

 

Lacrosse Four Thought…

Will a Washington team crack the top 50 in any national polls?

Who did we leave off of the Preseason All-State Teams?

What are your pre-season picks for the FIVE All-American slots?

Where are other WHSBLA alumns suiting up this season?

 

We’ll give a shout out to the best emails of the week and include your comments/quotes in next week’s Sunday Stroll.  Further, in regards to our last thought, we are starting early on compiling a list of WHSBLA alumns playing college ball this season so please send us your knowledge!

 

Feed us your thoughts… Time to hear from you… Bring it!          EMAIL: TheSundayStroll@gmail.com