Deal's OT goal lifts Bellevue Over Mercer, Win Division I Championship
The Bellevue Wolverines made their first appearance in the state title game in 18 years. They are led by All-American attackman Brett Mennella. Their team’s style is a transition run-and-gun tempo, usually finding their attack to score. Mennella, a first team All-State selection along with All-State midfielder Cole Nordstrom leads the Wolverine offense. On defense, Bellevue is led by 2nd Team All-State Sam Leggett. Bellevue’s only loss of the season was to Mercer Island 7-5.
For Mercer Island, it will be their third appearance in the title game in four years, lasting winning it in 2006. The Islanders are undefeated both in-state and out-of state in their competition. Their team style is characterized by a fast defense and slow offense- running slow possessions and an aggressive defense. Their defense is led by First Team All-State defensemen Connor Beckwith, Connor Raffety and goalie Hap Giraud. All-American Jon Wettack leads the scoring for the Islanders and is supported by attackmen Connor Bernal and Matt Shields.
At the start of the game, Bellevue wins the first face-off. Giraud made a save, giving the ball to the Islanders. Doug Mahony dodged and rolled off his defender and ripped a shot for a goal as the defender slide took him down. Mercer is up 1-0. Bellevue settled into their offense after getting a save. On Bellevue’s offensive possession, Ryan Deal and Brett Mennella ran a two-man pick behind the cage and Deal scored, wrapping Giraud. The Wolverines get the ball back on another clear and Eric Omri found a seam and scored. Bellevue goes up 2-1 with 4:30 to play in the quarter.
On the ride, Bellevue again attempted to shut off the Mercer attack outlets, forcing their long poles to carry the ball across. After an unsettled Mercer possession, Wettack picked up a loose ball on the crease and faked out Boyd to tie the game up. Bellevue scored on the ensuing possession, after Mennella fed Cole Nordstrom at the top of the box, for an outside shot. Mercer’s Bernal drew a flag at the end of the quarter. The score at the end of the first quarter 3-2 Bellevue.
First quarter stats: Shots MI 9 Bell 6, Saves MI 2 Bell 5, Groundballs- MI 4 Bell 3.
At the start of the quarter, Mercer blew their EMO giving the ball to Bellevue. Mennella got the ball, redodged from behind and wrapped Giraud, putting the Wolverines up 4-2. Bellevue gets two EMOs and failed at both due to good defense by Mercer. Mercer got back into the game after Bernal turned the corner and scored on a jumper. Mercer calls timeout after breaking up a Bellevue clear. Wettack dodged and rolled his defender and sidearm-sniped the top right corner tying the game up at 4. Both teams fell into a defensive battle with neither team breaking the stalemate. Bellevue got an EMO with less than 30 seconds in the quarter. They fail to get a shot off, but keep possession going into the third quarter.
Halftime Stats: Shots MI 8 Bell 5, Saves MI 0 Bell 1, Groundballs MI 11 Bell 7
To open up the second half, Bellevue generated a second chance opportunity after breaking up the Mercer clear after a forced turnover. Mercer got the ball back, after TJ Blackburn powered his way through three defenders. Matt Shield got the ball and got hit at the box, kept the ball in his stick and drew a penalty. However, Mercer would fail to capitalize and turned the ball over. Mercer becomes sloppy with their passes leading to turnovers. Ryan Deal picked up a loose ball at half, burned his man and took a shot on Giraud who stopped it.
The intensity and suspense picked up over which team would score to take the lead halfway through the third. It came with Islander Colton Knebel, who snuck a wing shot through Boyd’s five-hole. On the next possession, Knebel got a hot stick and wing dodge right to left for another goal. Mercer is up 6-4 with 2:30 left in the third quarter. Bellevue gets a break after Boyd stuffed Taylor with less than a minute left. The score at the end of the third quarter was 6-4 Mercer.
3rd Quarter stats: Shots- MI 14 Bell 10, Saves MI 3 Bell 3, Groundballs MI 9 Bell 7
Both teams sense the urgency and start hitting and checking harder. Bellevue comes up with the ball on the face-off. Mennella scored off a skip pass to cut the deficit by one. Bellevue gets some momentum from that and then stripping the ball behind the cage. On the Wolverine possession, Giraud made two great saves and then killed another Bellevue EMO. The crowd noise got louder at the 6:30 mark. Bellevue had success with riding and turning the ball over.
The game becomes more chippy and aggressive as the second tick away. The Wolverines got a push penalty giving Mercer and EMO. On the man-up, T. Claes Johnson fed Matt Shields on the crease to put the Islanders up by two. Bellevue’s Omri answered back hitting stick side on Giraud, his second of the night. Bellevue is down by 7-6 at 4:30. Mennella took the ball himself and took a side on Giraud, but it grazed the outside of the cage and Mercer got possession.
Bellevue stole the ball with less than three minutes to play. Giraud made the save on Omri and Mercer takes possession with less than two minutes to play. After a timeout Mercer attempted to stall, but the Wolverines get it back and Bellevue calls timeout with 52 seconds left to play in regulation. Bellevue tied the game after Omri hit the pipe ricochet for the equalizer 7-7, and it goes to overtime.
To start overtime, Beckwith was penalized for an illegal stick, giving Bellevue the extra-man. Mercer killed the Bellevue EMO. Bellevue kept the ball and Beckwith and Nordstrom duel at the half, until Ryan Deal gets the ball, juked his man and scored a bouncer.
Players of the Game:
Ryan Deal- 2g 1a (game winner)
Eric Omri- 3g