Rival lacrosse powerhouses meet in state semi-final

May 25, 2010

By Bob Taylor

It’s probably not surprising that Issaquah and Mercer Island, longtime high school lacrosse rivals, will collide once again in a big game.

The two powers, which have battled for state titles in the past, meet at 8 p.m. May 26 at Mercer Island in the semifinals of the Washington State League Division I tournament.

Jake Fritz (left), Issaquah junior attacker, takes a shot as Stadium’s Drew Thomas defends his team’s goal early in the second quarter of their May 19 first-round state tournament lacrosse match. By Greg Farrar

The winner advances to the title game May 29 in Seattle’s Memorial Stadium. Bellevue and Bainbridge meet in the other semifinal.

Mercer Island, 20-0 in the season, defeated Issaquah 9-7 in a hard-fought game April 9 at Issaquah. The Islanders won the Northeast Conference regular-season title.

Issaquah, 18-4 and state champions the past two years, finished third in the Northeast Division. However, Issaquah has been building up momentum in the off-season, recording two tournament victories last week.

On May 19, Issaquah opened tournament action with a first-round, 16-4 triumph against visiting Stadium, of Tacoma. Although it became a decisive victory for Issaquah, the host team got off to a slow start. Issaquah led just 4-2 after two quarters.

“We predictably came out slow against a 5-9 team. It was hard to get our players excited to play, as Stadium had lost to teams we had beaten badly this year,” Issaquah coach Brandon Fortier said. “We were purely going through the motions in the first half and not playing with any intensity or urgency.”

Issaquah got untracked in the third quarter by scoring five goals.

“The one guy that helped spark some fire was sophomore defensive midfielder Austin Richert,” Fortier said. “His inspired play helped get everyone else into it in the second half and we finally started clicking.”

Issaquah polished off Stadium with seven goals in the final quarter.

Kevin Powers led the Issaquah offense with five goals, one assist and 10 groundballs. Matt O’Neill contributed three goals and two assists; Ben Director had three goals. Jake Fritz added two goals and two assists.

The victory against Stadium sent Issaquah into the May 21 quarterfinals against King’s Way, of Vancouver. Issaquah prevailed 13-4 in the game played at Columbia River High School.

It was the first meeting between Issaquah and King’s Way, a private school.

King’s Way, second in the Southwest Conference, stuck with Issaquah in the first half. Issaquah led 5-3 at halftime. A goal by O’Neill just before halftime gave Issaquah its two-goal advantage.

“We came out much more focused,” Fortier said. “They came out in a zone defense and their goalie made several saves.”

Richert again sparked Issaquah with his physical defensive play. He also had four groundballs.

Issaquah dominated the third quarter, outscoring King’s Way 5-0. In the final period, Issaquah added three more goals to post another convincing victory.

“It was a great team effort,” Fortier said. “Our scoring was very well rounded.”

Seven players scored in all for Issaquah.

Powers and O’Neill each scored three goals to lead Issaquah. Director and Fritz each had two goals.

Goalkeeper O’Neil Hughes had nine saves for Issaquah.

Bainbridge knocks out Skyline

Skyline was eliminated in the quarterfinals May 21 by host Bainbridge 15-7. Daniel Christianson and Charlie Engel each had two goals for Skyline.

Skyline easily won its tournament opener April 18, walloping Tacoma 19-3. Skyline scored seven goals in the first quarter to take a commanding lead.

Connor Brandt led the Skyline attack with four goals. Max Saffle and Jeremy Villeux each scored three goals for Skyline.

Bob Taylor: 392-6434, ext. 236, or bobtaylor@isspress.com. Comment at www.issaquahpress.com.

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