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2019 State Championships Preveiw

2018 State Championship deja vu? Three of the four matches in this year’s state finals are repeat attendees that are either looking for their first championship, second championship, or if you’re the Bellevue Wolverines, their third straight championship. Story by Michael Thornbloom.

The matchups in this season’s state championship are incredibly even as either team has a legitimate shot at winning their game. 3A Championship is one of the most highly attended and they get the early slot this year so plan on waking up early and getting your breakfast in if you want to see if Mercer Island can finally slay the titan that are the Bellevue Wolverines. Skyline and Eastlake are going best of 3 championships with Skyline holding the 2017 title and Eastlake holding the 2018 title while the Seattle Prep Panthers are hunting for their first championship rematch with the O’Dea Fighting Irish. The 1A/2A match bring its own kind of excitement as we will now have seen six different teams participate in the finals over the past three seasons since the split in championship bracket started in 2017.

The weather is projected to be cold and wet this year setting the tone for perfect lacrosse weather so bring your umbrellas, rain jackets and popcorn because Saturday is going to be your highlight of memorial weekend.

Let’s see how these teams matchup:

3A State Championship - 10:30am - Bellevue (7-2) @ Mercer Island (8-1)

It’s the Wolverines against the Islanders for the third straight year as Mercer Island head coach Ian O’Hearn looks to take down their arch nemesis. These two teams have faced each other five times since Bellevue head coach Nick Welton took over the head coaching responsibilities in 2017. Over the course of those matches Bellevue has won four of them including two state championships and outscoring Mercer Island 45-28.

The Islanders are coming into this game in better shape than their last two championship appearances averaging 13.5 goals for and 6 goals against. Bellevue is statistically having their worst season out of the three years averaging only 9 goals for and 8 against making this Mercer Island’s best opportunity to dethrone the king and take home their first championship since 2015. Look for Islander senior attackman Glen Mahony (31g, 14a) and Wolverine junior attackman Nate Podolsky (24g, 5a) to be the center points of their offenses as these two juggernauts clash once again at the Starfire Complex.

4A State Championship - 1:30pm - Skyline (6-3) @ Eastlake (8-1)

This is the match that will settle the best of three championships between these two teams as they have been to this stage against each other twice already and they split those meetings 1-1. In their last match a month ago the Wolves pulled it out over Skyline by only a goal. This could be a great indication for another close game between these two as Skyline head coach Sam Hutson will be eager to secure his second trophy in three seasons.

Both of these teams match-up really well with Eastlake averaging 10 goals for and 6.8. goals against while Skyline averaged 10.4 goals for and 6.8 goals against. It really doesn’t get much closer than this for a championship match making this game a must see for anyone interested in staying after the 3A championship game. Wolves sophomore attackman Simon Breecher (28g, 4a) and Spartan senior captain midfielder Kellen Hoke (30g, 8a) will be at the forefront of their offense and be key to their team’s success in the end.

1A/2A State Championship - 4:30pm - Liberty (7-1) @ Vashon (13-1)

Liberty has demonstrated some serious tenacity in this playoff run with their two playoff victories coming down to a goal. They beat the defending 1A/2A state champs, the Skagit Valley Flyers, in the semifinals in an epic overtime match in northern Washington. Now it’s KingCo versus the Olympic conference, Seattle vs. the Capital, to see which city breeds the best 1A/2A team in 2019. Vashon has a scary defense averaging only 3 goals against in 14 games this season but accrued an average of 7 goals against in their two playoff games. Liberty has been fighting for the past two years to get to this stage and now they will need to bring that clutch game that got them here to beat a tough Olympic team. The Patriots averaged 12 goals in 14 games this season so they will match up nicely against the Vashon Pirates.

Private School State Championship - 7:30pm - Seattle Prep @ O’Dea

The Private state championship match is always a gritty one and O’Dea is having a similar story from last year with noticeable improvement throughout the course of this season. Panthers head coach Rich Stearns has been doing a fantastic job building up his team these past few years to get to this stage in the season twice in a row. A season before Seattle Prep swept O’Dea in the regular season over their two matches but this year has been the reverse with O’Dea going 2-0 over their rivals. O’Dea ultimately won the state championship last season and if that year was any indication, it’s that beating your opponents in regular season doesn’t mean a thing once you step onto Starfire turf.

Statistically these two are about even but the edge is going to have to go to the defending state champs. O’Dea plays fast and aggressive with the rock and the Panthers have shown struggle to keep up in these situations. There’s a lot of reason to believe in Stearns young poles as this team has a lot of heart and will likely be hungry to redeem themselves from last year. Panthers senior attackman Jack Nelson (22g, 9a) and junior attackman Lucas Wathen (21g, 7a) will be a great tandem to watch in this game as they have lead their team in goals throughout the season. The Irish have their own tandem with senior captain Ben Luke (20g, 7a) and junior attackman Avery Buote-Porter (20g, 11a) demonstrating very similar numbers and creating terror for their opponents around the cage. If anyone is on the fence about staying for the late game, let this push you over because this game could go either way with how well these two teams matchup.

Story by Michael Thornbloom

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