Editor’s note: Barbarosa is back! A longtime NW Lax observer, Barbarosa brings you a look inside the High School scene of The Evergreen State, otherwise known as Washington. Miss his first post? Check it out here.
So the Washington High School season is about a third complete and teams are heading off for Spring Break, out-of-state trips to see of what they are really made. This state has traditionally had four good programs and a slew of…uh…emerging ones. At this point in the season there are some new questions, but they are about the same old teams.
There’s no doubt who the big dog on the block is at this point. The hated Mercer Island Islanders are clearly the cream of the crop. Senior Jon Wettack is averaging 5.5 pts per game, Connor Beckwith gets all the tough matchups and leads the defense into battle, and Hap Giraud is simply the best goalie this state has seen in awhile.
No one knows how good this team is, they are undefeated and very few teams have even given them a game. In last weekend’s NW Invitational, they faced Oregon’s top team, Lincoln. who stayed with Mercer most of the game but lost in overtime. Perhaps the Islanders will be tested in their final New York game at Guilderland (April 3rd) but they’ve already handled Mahopac and a good-but-road-weary Lakeland/Panas team on this trip to the East Coast. If not exactly well-liked, Coach Ian O’Hearn certainly has them well-tuned.
Coach Brandon Fortier’s Issaquah Eagles, on the other hand, are not firing on all cylinders. Coming off two straight State Titles, and undefeated in their league games to date, it seems silly to say that they’ve not dominated near as much expected. But they stumbled hard in the NW Invitational, losing both their games by wide margins. The Eagles have been getting good play from sophomores Matt O’Neil and Kole Lindor, but touted goalie transfer O’Neil Hughes needs to regroup and show the play that he’s known for. The Eagles’ upperclassmen are going to determine where this team goes this year. Perhaps their Spring Break success against three Colorado teams (Castle View, Littleton, and Columbine) will get their mojo back.
The Bellevue Wolverines, leading the division at 5-0, have no such mojo problems. Their danger takes the form of peaking too early. Coach John Baumann backloaded the Wolverines schedule, not facing Issaquah and Mercer Island until the last week of the season. They showed well at the NW Invitational, defeating a tough Lakeridge squad and then losing to Lakeland/Panas 9 -8 with a last second goal, in a game some are saying was the best lacrosse game ever played at Bellevue High.
The senior-heavy Wolverine team has gelled and has a legitimate shot at the championship. Senior Brett Menella leads the league in goals and his long-sticked twin Alex anchors the defense. Bellevue can score, but starts two sophomores on defense and another between the pipes. Do they have the sack yet to grind out a long season, including next week’s trip to Dallas (Alpharetta, Jesuit, & Plano)?
Another sack in question lies across the waters with the Bainbridge Island Spartans. Traditionally a powerhouse, their world got rocked with a shutout at the hands of Mercer Island two weeks ago. Add to that three thumpings at the NW Invitational, and Spartans have had their reality altered. Co-Head Coach Dejon Hush is easily the hippest coach in the state, but is his talent base on the wane? They’ve only got one scorer, senior Wagner Jordan, in the top 30 in the league, and with just three other seniors on the roster, next year might be the Spartan’s year. An April 9th date against undefeated King’s Way looms large, as does their upcoming trip to Oregon (West Linn and Lincoln.)
So while high school lacrosse has exploded in Washington, the top of the heap still belongs to the same four teams this year. Maybe we’re wrong, maybe King’s Way or Curtis sneaks in and disrupts the top four. Maybe Jennifer Aniston kidnaps me for a long walk into the sunset. It could happen, but I know which way I’d bet.
Washington State Boys Rankings from Westsidelax.com
1. Mercer Island: 7-0
2. Bellevue: 7-1
3. Issaquah: 5-2
4. Bainbridge Island: 2-4