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WHSBLA 2018 Championship Preview

A little bit of déjà vu this year with two of our championship match-ups repeating from last year; Skyline @ Eastlake and Mercer Island @ Bellevue. O’Dea gets their third shot at the Seattle Prep Panthers this year on the biggest stage of the season, and after their impressive playoff run they are looking to make this final bout even more competitive than the last. North meets South in the 1A/2A game with the Columbia River Chieftains driving up from Vancouver to meet the Burlington-Edison Tigers at Starfire. Can Mercer Island and Eastlake redeem themselves from last year? Will the Panthers bring home their first state championship ever? A lot to be excited about with the best lacrosse programs in the State of Washington meeting in four high stakes games for the right to call themselves, the best.

Lets get into our match-ups this Saturday:

4A Championship - 10:30am – Skyline Spartans @ Eastlake Wolves

Unlike last year, the Wolves will come into this game as a close favorite but if this game is anything like their last meeting at Eastlake High School earlier this month, it will likely come down to the wire. Skyline nearly ran away with the game when they brought the score to a tie with less than half of the final quarter left but Eastlake’s top scoring player senior attackman Andrew Edwards came out with a clutch goal to win the game as well as completing his hat-trick. A tough loss for the Spartans that is likely still in their heads as they prepare for a much anticipated grudge match at Starfire.

Putting the past behind them, the Spartans will look to remedy this as they look for their second consecutive State Championship. Statistically these teams are nearly identical with Skyline showing slightly better numbers. Stats don’t always do these teams justice and hardly translate to games of this caliber as it always comes down to one thing, the players. Three Lacrosse All-Americans will be playing in this game: Skyline’s senior attackman Nathan Brandt and longstick midfielder Will Carson against Eastlake’s senior midfielder Hunter Klinge. Look for these boys to put on another great show in a game that will likely put everyone on the edge of their seat.

1A/2A Championship - 1:30pm – Columbia River Chieftains @ Burlington-Edison Tigers

Two schools that are separated by 200 miles, nearly stretching across the whole State of Washington, will get to meet in the biggest game of the year. The Columbia River Chieftains got to Starfire by shear will winning an overtime game and upsetting a tough Liberty Patriots team last Wednesday. That marked their fourth overtime game this season and their third consecutive overtime victory. They will need all the momentum they can get against a Burlington-Edison team that has only allowed 48 goals this season. The Tigers are still the favorites here but one thing they need to prevent is allowing this game to go into OT, apparently the Chieftains know how to win those.

Burlington-Edison has only had one overtime game that occurred in their first match of the regular season to which they lost to Bellingham. After that, none of their games ever had scores close enough to be tied at the end of regulation time because they have been destroying their opposition all year averaging 13 goals a game including playoffs. Columbia River’s defense is suspect and could be the deciding factor in how this championship plays out but the way they have been playing implies that they have a lot of tenacity to win games. Look for our 1A/2A leading scorers on the field; Tiger’s junior midfielder Aidan Fitzpatrick (33g, 16a), senior attackman Cole Taggart (38g, 13a) and Chieftain’s junior attackman Nick Frichtl (35g, 28a).

Private School Championship - 4:30pm – O’Dea Fighting Irish @ Seattle Prep Panthers

Another thrilling match-up in the Private Division with head coach Drew Snider’s Fighting Irish pitted against head coach Rich Stearns Panthers. These two get the luxury of playing each other twice during regular season giving them a nice gauge to set up their team against the other. The Panthers are 2-0 in their match-up this year but the Irish have shown steady progress down the stretch winning their last six games straight. Neither one of those games had a score under 10 goals demonstrating some serious firepower from the Irish coming into the championship.

Seattle Prep has had a staple year for 2018 with an 8-2 record and both their losses only coming down to a single goal. With O’Dea sporting an offense that has scored 200 goals this season we could be looking at a shootout. The Irish have yet to score over 8 goals against their opponent this year but they will surely attempt to change that at Starfire. Both will be showcasing their All-American players in this fight, Panther’s senior attackman Sergei Jacobs (66g, 11a) and Fighting Irish’s senior midfielder Cole Daninger (34g, 15a). O’Dea will need to find a way to slow Jacobs down who has 7 recorded goals against them this year if they want a reasonable shot at the title.

3A Championship - 7:30pm – Mercer Island Islanders @ Bellevue Wolverines

Our headlining game is only fitting that it would be between arguably the two best teams in the state. The Islanders had a shot at redemption against the Wolverines in their final match of regular season but fell 10-3 in an uncharacteristically low scoring game for Mercer Island. They had to play without junior midfielders Donnie Howard (26g, 43gb) and Ben Dunbar (33g, 39gb) who both sat out due to injuries, but will be returning in the championship game to give their team a stronger edge. They will need all the help they can get if the last game’s numbers are an indication of how dominating Bellevue played on all sides of the field.

It’s almost an understatement to say how stacked the Wolverines are in terms of weaponry. With four All-Americans on their team, two on offense and two on defense, they are clearly intimidating for anyone to play. Senior attackman Paul Johnson (31g, 22a) and attackman Tom Heed (32g, 25a) will lead the charge while defensemen Chase Overton (63gb) and Jack Heed (46gb) guard the cage from any Islander attacks. Mercer Island is not short of weapons themselves as they’ll bring in senior All-American attackman Glen Mahony (60g, 21a) and All-American midfielder Stewart Vassau (53g, 122gb). These powerhouse teams are a recipe for another amazing State Championship showdown, can the Islanders repeat their 2015 season and take away the title from the two year state champs? It’s these kind of games that make Washington Lacrosse a sport to follow.

Story by Michael Thornbloom.