The Sunday Stroll
The Week that Was…
Another season in the books and 2013 marked the first time the WHSBLA action spread past Memorial Day as the Championships took place on June 1st. In case you missed our 250+ tweets, there was some pretty good lacrosse played league wide! In the end, Nathan Hale and Bellevue stood on top.
Nathan Hale cruised into the finals over an upstart Ballard crew to meet up with an unbeaten Garfield squad. Garfield got a mild scare in the first half of their semifinal from Richland but used a run of eight unanswered goals to advance. Having been tested in the semis and being back in the championship for the 2nd year in a row seemed to favor Garfield heading into the title game. Further, Garfield was the more senior laden group feeding off all those experiences while Nathan Hale is still relatively young. But it was the Raiders that came out full of energy and confidence, scoring first and eventually jumping out to a 5-1 lead. Garfield’s poise showed as they pulled back to 5-2 by halftime and continued a string of five unanswered goals to take a 6-5 lead. Hale demonstrated maturity of their own in not falling apart as they quickly tied it. In the end, it was Will Snider. The junior attackman, kept the ball in his stick for a solid 40 seconds pacing back and forth behind the cage. He picked his moment, bolted high side and finished with 33 seconds left. The Bulldogs had one last bark, but Andrew McCall made a big save and Nathan Hale captured their first Division II Championship.
The night cap pitted the two best programs of the last four years in a rematch of the 2010 title game. Bellevue had imposed their will on Eastside Catholic in the semis while Mercer Island squeezed by Bainbridge in the overtime “lights out” thriller. The Wolverines and Islanders had battled to a 9-8 thriller themselves in the regular season but this one would be much different. Bellevue’s offensive firepower was just simply too much for Mercer. The Islanders tried once again to shut off All-American, Cole Johnson and play zone but it didn’t bother the Wolverines early as they finished in transition and made the most of broken plays, not allowing the Islanders a chance to dictate defensively. Bellevue pushed to a 7-1 halftime advantage. Certainly you would expect the Islanders to put up a fight and mount a comeback but many wondered how? Bellevue looked dominant and when the Islanders did get chances, Bellevue netminder Bradley Medeiros was gobbling everything up. But fight Mercer did as after trading goals to open the second half the Islanders finally put a string together scoring three unanswered to make it 8-5 and it looked like we might be headed for a great finish. Mercer won the ensuing faceoff with a chance to cut further into the deficit but a turnover sent the Wolverines the other direction and Hank Bethke finished another fast break in style. It was a huge turning point as it stole any momentum from Mercer and sparked Bellevue to a six-goal run into the 4th quarter. The commanding 14-6 lead was simply too much to overcome. The Islanders certainly tried though as All-American defenseman, Chase York put on an offensive display never before seen by a long pole, especially in a title game. In a span of less than six minutes, York scored 3 goals, including one in which he stayed on the field for an Islander man-up! But the Wolverines prevailed 14-11, successfully defending their title and earning them their 3rd State Title in 4 years!
Never too early to start talking about 201, right? As McNutty began to muse near the end of his May 27th article, “Predictions anyone?”
· Bellevue and Mercer Island each graduate some very key pieces. Bethke, Haehl and Medeiros are all back for the Wolverines next spring; not a bad place to start. The Islanders have reached at least the semifinals every year since being promoted to Division I back in 1997 so odds are they will be back as well.
· On paper, Eastside Catholic could be the team to beat as they graduate just three and return a potent offense. Everyone knows about MacIlvennie and for good reason, but for our money, the biggest snub in the All-State voting was midfielder Blake Lee. Lee missed some games with concussion issues, but when he played he produced. He put up 5 goals including the overtime winner vs Bainbridge. He put up 4 in a win over Issaquah. Despite the loss, he showed very well in the state semis against Bellevue. Further, EC should get attackman, Ross Komenda back as he missed the entire year with an ACL injury. It remains to be seen who takes over the coaching job and if the team stays entirely intact. Assuming Komenda comes back healthy, Lee can stay in the lineup and no other surprises, look out for the Crusaders in 2014!
· Bainbridge takes a huge hit to graduation as the Spartans graduate 12 and return just 5 seniors in 2014 that will have had Varsity experience.
· In looking at the four other Quarterfinal squads, Issaquah and Auburn Riverside both return the vast majority of their offensive pieces but each must rebuild a bit defensively. Eastlake appears to be hit pretty hard by graduation as well, losing 10. However, word is recently named Coach of the Year, Chris O’Dougherty will be back at the helm for a second year so should be exciting to see what more the Wolves can accomplish. Will be very interesting to see the future of King’s Way now that Jack Beall and Clayton Frank have graduated. Similar to Bainbridge, the Knights graduate 10 and return just 3 seniors in 2014 with Varsity experience.
· On the Division II front the first conversation in looking towards the next season always stem around new programs. Where will they pop up? After entertaining the idea this year, O’Dea should have a program in 2014. Also talks of new program starting up at SAAS (Seattle Academy of Arts and Sciences). The Richland program should spawn the birth of a second program in the Tri-Cities.
· The next set of questions always stem around whom will be reassigned to Division I or Division II respectively. As the newly crowned champions of Division II and considering they are still young, there will undoubtedly be talks of Nathan Hale joining Division I. In reality much will depend on answers to the question above in terms of the formation of new programs.
We know two things for certain: The WHSBLA will continue to grow AND 2014 will be even more exciting!
Anything we missed? Got some good comments or questions for us? EMAIL: TheSundayStroll@gmail.com