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2019 State Semifinals Preview

We are just a short week away from Starfire madness as the semi-finals kick off with the most electrifying matchups of the year. The best of the best have worked their way into the best week Washington Lacrosse has to offer with KingCo showdowns and Private School slugfests as we eagerly await to see if the old return or the new punch their first ticket into Starfire. Can Lakeside spark their first Championship berth in over five years? Will we see the Tahoma Bears pull en epic upset against the 2017 State Champions the Skyline Spartans? Let’s dive into this year’s semi-final matchups to determine who has the best shot at the title. Story by Michael Thornbloom.

Tuesday

PV

5:30pm - Seattle Prep (6-3) @ Lakeside (7-2)

Round 3 for these two teams and it comes at one of the biggest stages of the year. Lakeside Head Coach Chris Hartley has already stated his interest in this rematch that he has been highly expecting since Seattle Prep’s victory over them in the final game of regular season. These two teams match up as well as any other two clubs that meet each other this year and with both of them splitting wins in their two meetings this season, they will get the chance to prove who is hungrier as Starfire waits just around the corner.

Lakeside’s season averages come to 13 goals for and 5 goals against while Seattle Prep’s averages are at 11 goals for and just under 7 goals against. Statistically Lakeside holds the edge over the Panthers but when they’re on the field they are a much more even match than the numbers show. Look for scoring leaders Panther’s senior attackman Jack Nelson (22g, 9a), junior attackman Lucas Wathen (21g, 7a) and Lion’s junior attackman Charlie Hipps (33g, 9a), junior midfielder Jake Johnson (20g, 15a) to lead their teams in an epic clash of talent and heated competition. Lakeside will get the slight edge over the Panthers in this game with a defense that has been bright all year, but if they win, it won’t be by more than a few goals.

6:00pm - Bellarmine Prep (4-6) @ O’Dea (8-1)

Bellarmine Prep won a tight 5-4 game in OT against a Seattle Academy team that was looking like they were destined to make it to the semifinals. They now will face the defending Private State Champs in the biggest game of Bellarmine’s recent memory. With O’Dea bringing in an average of 11 goals for and 5 goals against on the season, it will take the best game of these young boy’s lives to pull off a victory against a primed Irish team that could very well repeat this year. If they’re going to win they will need to find a way to prevent O’Dea’s leading scorer, senior team captain Ben Luke (20g, 7a), from getting to the cage.

Wednesday

1A/2A

6:30pm - Orting (6-6) @ Vashon (13-1)

Number one ranked Olympic team, the Vashon Pirates, meet number one ranked Puget Sound team, the Orting Cardinals, in what will be Vashon’s second semifinal appearance and Orting’s first over the past two seasons. The Cardinals completely dismantled Montesano 23-3 last Saturday and they will need this momentum heading into a very tough Vashon Pirate team that has averaged 12 goals for and and insane 3 goals against over the course of 14 games. Orting’s playoff run has been admirable in this season but with the pressure likely on their side as Vashon is the clear favorite, it is possible they could pull the upset and berth their first state championship appearance.

7:00pm - Liberty (7-1) @ Burlington-Edison (6-2)

The Liberty Patriots exacted their revenge against Columbia River last Saturday in an 8-7 epic at Liberty High School just a year after Columbia River defeated them by a goal in OT at the same stage in the playoffs. Now they get to face the defending 1A/2A state champs who have been looking like the favorites to win it all again this year. In the past two season, there has been one team in the state championship representing the Northwest Conference. Liberty has the opportunity to break this trend as they come into this game as nearly equal statistically with the Flyers. It’s likely that whoever wins this match will win the whole thing as these are the two strongest teams coming into this round.

3A

7:00pm - Bellevue (7-2) @ Bainbridge (4-0)

This will be Bainbridge’s third year straight they have made it to the semifinals as they suffered losses in both of their previous two against the Mercer Island Islanders. The Bainbridge Spartans have had tougher schedules in the past with their toughest opponents in this season coming from schools in Oregon and a game against Seattle Prep out of the 18 total games they played this year. Their offensive performance has skyrocketed to an average of 14 goals a game largely in part to blow out victories against Division 2 teams like Roosevelt, Franklin-Garfield and West Seattle. This should be an area of concern as they prepare to host a Bellevue team that has been facing KingCo teams as well as state championship contenders like Eastlake, Skyline and Mercer Island and still maintain an average of 9 goals for and 8 goals against.

Bainbridge will need to exploit a vulnerable Wolverine defense that has let go games against Juanita and Eastlake marking their worst season record in the past several years. Look for Spartan senior team captain Merritt McMahon (17g, 8a) and sophomore attackman Jaden Mass (11g, 4a) clash against Wolverine junior attackman Nate Podolsky (24g, 5a) and junior midfielder Grey Sunderland (3g, 4a, 72gb) in one of the most exciting brackets in Washington Lacrosse. The defending champs head into Bainbridge Island as the favorites but the Spartans have always put up great fights in their KingCo rivals. At least this time they won’t have to face Mercer Island for the third straight semifinal match as head coach Jack Visco looks to dethrone the king.

7:00pm - Juanita (6-3) @ Mercer Island (8-1)

Very Impressive season for the Juanita Rebels who went 3-5 just a season before. Now they find themselves only a game behind Bellevue in KingCo rankings and a deep playoff run pitting them against the Mercer Island Islanders on their road to Starfire. These two met earlier this year at the end of April where the Islanders had a decisive 11-6 road victory over the Rebels in Juanita’s largest deficit loss on the year. Juanita looks ready for their rematch coming into Mercer Island with 40 goals for and only 8 goals against in their playoff run. This is much needed momentum that they will need to channel against an Islander team that has suffered through some mental errors earlier this year.

Although the Islanders have shown signs of struggle and Head Coach Ian O’Hearn has given visible signs of frustration after their loss to Bellevue in mid-April, they have outscored all of their opponents following that game 91-23. Most notable about this is those game came against Eastlake, Seattle Prep and even Juanita. This makes it appear that they have heavily corrected their past mistakes and are focused on taking home a trophy that has slipped through their fingers in the previous two seasons. Islander senior attackman Glen Mahony (31g, 14a) will be a key piece in Mercer Island’s success, putting pressure on up-in-coming Rebel’s sophomore attackman Stegner Bell (24g, 1a) and sophomore A/M Bode Maurer (12g, 24a) to carry this team through what will likely be an electric battle of high quality lacrosse.

4A

7:00pm - Curtis (8-2) @ Eastlake (8-1)

The Curtis Vikings squeaked out their 13-12 win in OT against the Issaquah Eagles effectively breaking the KingCo curse and punching their ticket into the semifinals against the defending state champs. No matter what happens in this game, Curtis will always have that OT win to push them past a mark they have struggled in the past two years. They will head in to face Eastlake who has been looking like the best lacrosse club in the state this season with wins against Bellevue, Skyline and Juanita. The Wolves suffered their largest defeat against Mercer Island a few weeks ago with their lowest scoring game at only 4 goals. Their following three games appeared to be a quick remedy of this performance when they put up 49 goals and two of those games came in the playoffs.

The Vikings have a tall task ahead of them heading into the Wolves Den and they’ll need to step up their game even further if they are going to upset Eastlake at home. If they don’t find a way to make Wolves sophomore attackman Simon Breecher (28, 4a) irrelevant if they want to stand a chance as Breecher has yet to finish a game without a goal. Vikings Jake Long (26g, 7a) and Dane Hamilton (23g, 11a) will play a pivotal role in their path to victory as long as they find their way past up-in-coming sophomore goalie Isaac Morse (0.508sv%) who spent much of the first part of the season with a 0.600sv%.

7:00pm - Skyline (6-3) @ Tahoma (10-0)

This is an exciting match-up as the Tahoma Bears face the Skyline Spartans in the semifinals for the second straight year. Tahoma should be eager to avenge their 16-5 loss to the Spartans a season before as they have produced another impressive 10-0 season while averaging 10 goals for and 7 goals against. Their win against the Eastlake Wolves in early April is something to note in this match-up as Skyline has struggled against that very team in last year and this season. With that being said, the Spartans are not a team to sleep on as Head Coach Sam Hutson has done a very good job at keeping this team in championship contention over the course of these past three seasons.

The Bears are sporting a scoring trio in junior attackman Joe Connelly (17g, 28a), senior attackman Cam Bentley (37g, 5a) and senior attackman Carter Warm (28g, 14a) this season that will need to keep the same groove going in this match. This could turn into a shootout if Skyline’s trio of shooters, senior midfielder Kellen Hoke (30g, 8a), junior A/M flex Caelin Lewis (25g, 5a) and senior A/M flex Carson Clarke (21g, 4a), get into their own groove and potentially put all the pressure on Tahoma to keep pace. The Bears should be able to keep the score close throughout this game but once Skyline extends the lead to four, it’s over.

Story by Michael Thornbloom

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