Issaquah lacrosse dedicates season to fallen teammate

March 8, 2011

By Bob Taylor

Issaquah lacrosse club players listen to teaching from coach Brandon Fortier during a practice session last week. By Greg Farrar

Incentive will not be an issue for the Issaquah High School lacrosse club this spring. The Eagles have plenty of incentive and most of it stems from a former teammate.

Issaquah players are dedicating this season to Tyler Lucas, who died Feb. 1 from injuries he sustained in a three-car accident. Lucas was a two-year starter and an all-league player. The entire team will wear a decal on their helmets in memory of Lucas.

The Eagles, who had a two-year reign as Division I state champions end last spring, are eager to return to the top spot. That was also Lucas’ goal for this season.

“At his eulogy, Tyler’s brother read a list of goals that Tyler had written as part of some school project and one of them was to ‘bring back the state championship,’” Issaquah coach Brandon Fortier said.

Issaquah’s bid for a three-peat last spring ended with a 4-2 loss to rival Mercer Island in the state semifinals of the Washington High School Boys Lacrosse Association tournament.

Fortier said the team has been very motivated in preseason workouts.

“You can see in some of their faces and expressions that many of them are much more focused,” Fortier said. “Naturally at this point the joking around has been slow to come back. People are much more serious and have one goal … win for Tyler.”

Issaquah just might have the talent to fulfill their goal.

Among the probable starters are attackers Jake Fritz, Matt O’Neill and Ashton Ritchie; midfielders Kevin Powers, Michael Hatcher and Ben Director; defenders Kole Lindor, Austin Richert and Aidan McDonald; and goalkeeper O’Neill Hughes. Hunter Van Horne, a senior who just began playing lacrosse last year, is expected to be a key contributor along with football players Eric Rauch and Trace Eaton.

Powers and Fritz, both seniors, are Issaquah’s top returning scorers.

Last year, Powers scored 26 goals and had 14 assists.

“Kevin is a do-everything midfielder. He is great on groundballs, he takes faceoffs well and is probably one of our better defensive midfielders in addition to his ability to score goals,” Fortier said.

Powers is one of two returning all-league players on the team.

Fritz had 22 goals and nine assists last year.

“Fritz is a great finisher with a nose for the goal,” Fortier said. “He is also very good at moving off the ball and finding seams. Jake is also very physical as an attackman.”

Both Powers and Fritz have committed to Dominican University of California, the same school that had a commitment from Lucas.

Lindor, a junior, is another talented returning player. He earned all-league honors last spring.

“He is probably the best long-stick midfielder in the state,” Fortier said. “He has definite college potential. He is a good takeaway defender and great on groundballs.”

Issaquah went 12-2 in league play last year and was 18-5 overall.

Fortier said he is concerned about Issaquah’s depth. The loss of Lucas, who was an all-league defender, will be felt.

“We have a very solid first 13 guys, but we don’t have that depth up to 20 guys as we have had the last three years,” said Fortier, who is in his 10th year as Issaquah coach.

Depth is a huge factor in Division I, which gets stronger each year. Mercer Island, Bainbridge and Issaquah have been the big powers. However, the Skyline, Eastside Catholic and Eastlake programs are growing and getting stronger each year.

Issaquah begins its season at 7:30 p.m. March 11 with a nonleague game at home against Couer d’Alene, Idaho. One of the highlights for Issaquah this season will be a spring vacation trip to New Jersey, where the Eagles will play three games.

Spartans return with scoring punch

Skyline returns with three of its top scorers from last season.

Junior Maxwell Saffle, who was second on the team in scoring, had 23 goals and 14 assists. Junior Jack Pruitt scored 24 goals and senior Brennan West accounted for 12 goals and 10 assists.

The Spartans, coached by Adam Kurtenbach, have 14 players back from last season’s team that went 10-8 overall and reached the quarterfinals of the state tournament.

Skyline begins its season March 11 with a nonleague game at Centennial, Nev.

Liberty begins second season

Liberty, which competes in Division II, begins its second season March 18 at home against Gig Harbor.

Coach Geo Tamblyn has a number of players back from last season’s team, which had its growing pains. The Patriots, who won just two games, have a mix of experienced players and promising freshmen.

The probable starters loom as midfielders Casey Smith, Forrest Hurley and Jeff Arnevick; defenders Wyatt Johnson, Sam Dodt and Alex Batali; and attackers Ryan Menezes, Anthony Mantz and Aaron Fleis. Johnson and Dodt are freshmen. Midfielders Collin Ross and Colin Larson are promising freshmen players, too.

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