The popularity of lacrosse in the Northwest has led to more and more high school athletes going on to play in college. That popularity brought the U-19 national team to Islander Stadium on Sunday for a clinic and an exhibition game against the Northwest College All-Stars.
Although the 21-2 final score was a bit lopsided, former Mercer Island High School players such as Chris Taylor, Greg Mahony, Adam Brazg and Ben York were happy to give the five-time defending world champions a workout.
“It was a good exhibition,” said Brazg, who graduated from MIHS in 2006. “It’s good to help them prepare for the world games.”
The 90-degree heat in the stands didn’t deter the more than 200 kids from around the area who attended the U-19 clinic and stayed to watch the game. But the heat in the stands was nothing compared to the heat on the field turf inside a full uniform.
“It was brutal on the field,” said Taylor. “It had to be 10 degrees hotter on the field.”
Team U.S.A.’s time playing together gave them a noticeable advantage over the Northwest All-Stars, who have mainly played against each other.
“It was fun to play with Ben York and some of the other guys I used to face-off against,” said Tyler Lee, who graduated from Eastside Catholic. “It is also fun to play with all these guys who play Division I.”
The U-19 team got on the board first, scoring three unanswered goals before Chris Taylor put one into the back of the net for the Northwest All-Stars.
“This was just like the college level,” said Taylor, who plays for Georgetown University and graduated from MIHS in 2005. “I wish them the best of luck.”
Team U.S.A. showed why they will be representing their country in a few weeks at the world championships, building an 18-1 advantage.
“They are a good team, and they have had six weeks to practice,” said Northwest All-Stars Coach Ian O’Hearn, who is also the Islanders’ coach. “This was fun to get to coach some of the guys that we have played against.”
All the Island players on the field helped to build their team into a juggernaught.
“I felt really well prepared when I got to college because the coaching staff is so good here,” said Taylor. “The game is a lot faster and everyone is just as big as you are, but it has been a great experience.”
Brazg, who plays for Bentley College, said he was proud of where the sport is heading in Washington.
“You got to love the Northwest,” said Brazg. “It is starting to get on the map.”