Young defense sinks MI
By Matt Phelps
Mercer Island Reporter
The Bainbridge Island High School lacrosse team walked into Islander stadium Friday ranked No. 1 in the state. The fact didn’t change as the Spartans defeated the defending state champion Islanders, 15-10.
“Everyone we play is not worried about us at the beginning of the season but at the end,” said Mercer Island head coach Ian O’Hearn. “Everyone knows that Bainbridge is a good team and tonight they played better than us.”
The Islanders began the game slowly, giving up the first three goals of the game before Steve Frankel got Mercer Island on the board. Teammate AJ Ellis found himself in trouble ten feet from the Spartans’ goal as Frankel darted out around him. A flip pass from Ellis and Frankel’s rocket-shot-on-goal cut the lead to two points.
Bainbridge maintained a two point edge as the raucous Islander faithful blasted the Spartan bench with jeers. Quick passing led to the Islanders’ third goal of the game, as Ian Le-Cerf, Ellis and Frankel tricked the Spartan keeper during the opening moments of the second quarter. But the Bainbridge Island offense opened up on the Islanders by expanding their lead to 7-3 by halftime.
“Not one of our guys played defense last year,” said O’Hearn. “We still have 21 games to perfect our defense.”
Mercer Island continued to let unassisted goals go by during the third period as Bainbridge Island built its biggest lead of the game 10-4. The deficit was reminiscent of last year’s state final, when Issaquah had built a six-point lead during the third period before the Islander’s stormed back. As if on cue, Islander Greg Mahony took control of his team’s offense. Mahony, snatching a pass out of the air, bolted for the Spartan goal, taking on three defenders to fire a hard shot past the keeper. The ensuing possession saw Mahony again take control with a long 20-yard lazer beam shot to the back of the Bainbridge goal. Bainbridge scored again with less than 10 seconds left on the third quarter clock for the 11-6 lead.
Three goals by Ellis and an assist to Islander Mike Choe helped Mercer Island keep pace but the porous Islander defense was too much for the offense to keep up with.
“(Our defense) did a better job of locking down later in the game,” said O’Hearn. “But we are untested and we have to get that experience. This game was good experience and they will learn from it. If we see them again it will be a different game.”
One of the biggest shocks of the game was the size of the Islander crowd which was bigger than most Islander football games minus the High School band.
“It is the biggest fan base I have seen,” said O’Hearn. “It is great to see.”
Mercer Island began the season with two blowout victories over Overlake, 16-3, and Eastside, 19-2. The islanders played at Lynnwood Tuesday (after reporter deadline) and the team’s next game will be at 7:30 tonight at Bellevue High School.