BELLEUVE, WA - All the way from the other side of Elliott Bay they came, young and old, anticipating the upset their Spartans were about to spring on the Kingco Champs. And for a moment, it felt like the optimism was warranted, as Bainbridge struck first, feeding the enthusiasm of the Spartan faithful. But a moment was all it would last, as the home team answered quickly to even the game, then erupted for a stunning eleven straight unanswered goals to put the game away before the first half expired.
Junior middie Augie Fratt lit the flame with a dodge to the middle that got him free for a left-handed shot to open the scoring. Moments later, he gathered in an outlet pass from Michael Medzegian and worked his way back to the middle of the field for another lefty shot that tickled the twine. Just like that, the Wolverines had erased the deficit and the tinge of anxiety that came with it for the Bellevue backers.
Paul Johnson was up next, taking in a feed from fellow attackman Joe Bethke and throwing a beautiful face dodge that left the defender in the dust, giving Johnson the opening he needed to drive one past the goalie. Senior FOGO Andrew Choe won the ensuing faceoff and triggered the fastbreak. Choe streaked down the field, drawing the defense and leaving Johnson open again on the wing. Choe delivered a perfect pass and Johnson found pay dirt once again to make it 4-1 Bellevue.
The run continued when Bethke delivered the second of his 3 assists, this time to Matt Marino for a step down shot from 10 yards that he buried top right. Bethke found himself on the receiving end moments later as he rolled to the cage and cradled a perfectly timed pass from Johnson, depositing it into the net. On the next possession, roles were reversed and it was Johnson on the back cut and Bethke feeding from behind the cage, but the result was the same. Johnson scored his 3rd of the night to give Bellevue a six goal advantage at 7-1 after the first period.
Bethke would add to his game-high 7 total points with another goal, this time off a feed from sophomore Tommy Heed, but the real fireworks came a little later when Heed capped off the prettiest play of the night. It started when Jack Albrecht picked off a pass and turned on the jets, outrunning two Spartan defenders as he carried the ball into the offensive end. The senior LSM then fired a pass to Johnson standing at the top of the box, and Johnson quickly fed Cameron McMahon just above GLE on the left side of the goal. McMahon resisted the temptation to shoot and made a cross-crease pass to Heed, who split two charging Bainbridge defenders with a nifty spin move and finished the textbook fastbreak with a sidearm shot from just outside the crease. One of the most spectacular goals this writer has seen in several years of watching Bellevue lacrosse.
Bellevue added two more goals, one from McMahon and one from Bethke, while the defense stifled the Spartans the entire half. The defense swarmed Bainbridge all night long, allowing only 11 shots on cage the entire game. The game slowed down a bit in the second half, as the teams traded goals. To the Spartans' credit, they continued to play hard, tallying 5 scores in the second half to make the final score a little more respectable at 14-6.
The Wolverines advance now to the State Championship for an incredible 6th time in the last 7 years, where they will face an Eastside Catholic team that dispatched of the Issaquah Eagles in impressive fashion. The Crusaders are led by senior attackman Bryce Atwater, who is averaging over 5 points per game in the playoffs, and senior goalie Josh Matte, who boasts a 70% save percentage thus far in the post season.
The Championship game is this Saturday at Starfire in Tukwila at 6:00pm. Come on out and support the Wolverines as they pursue their 5th state title 7 years.
BELLEVUE, WA - Last season the Wolverines traveled west to Woodland Park to face an O'Dea team that was, well, let's just say inexperienced. The Irish had some athleticism and played hard, but they were no match for the Wolverines who pounded the host team 19-7 in a game where Bellevue emptied the bench and 10 different Wolverines scored goals.
This year's match-up was a more meaningful one, and the Irish were a much improved opponent. They finished 3rd in the Metro conference and won their first round playoff game, and thus were standing in the way of another trip to the state semi-finals for Bellevue. The Wolverines struck first on a goal from junior attackman Cameron McMahon, but the Irish buckled down after that, playing stout defense and executing a methodical offense that kept the ball out of the hands of Bellevue's potent offense. The Irish managed to generate a handful of shots, but most were off-cage. Late in the quarter, sophomore middie Matt Marino emerged from a ground ball scrum and charged the cage. He drew a defender and dropped the ball off to McMahon who ripped a sidearm laser past the goalie, and Bellevue had a 2-0 lead at the end of one.
The Irish continued their stingy defense in the 2nd quarter, as goalie John Hyatt kept the Wolverines at bay with several nice saves. Eventually, the Wolverines would break through again as Augie Fratt threw a dime to Joe Bethke curling around from behind the cage, and Bethke finished to make it 3-0 Bellevue. Still, the Irish hung in. They continued to work the ball around on offense, patiently looking for opportunities, until finally O'Dea drove a lefty bouncer from the midfield that got past goalie Cabe Edelhertz and it was 3-1 midway through the second.
The goal gave the O'Dea faithful reason to cheer, and the Irish players were beginning to believe they could hang with the #1 seed out of Kingco. Bellevue, however, was unfazed, and with time running down in the first half, Bethke got the ball behind the cage and dusted his defender with a change of direction. As he came around the cage, he drew a slide from the O'Dea defense and leaving Jackson Fredman all alone. Bethke fed Fredman for a step down shot that nestled into the corner, extending the Bellevue lead to 4-1 going into the half.
The Wolverines had a 3 goal lead at the half and had only given up one goal, but O'Dea had given Bellevue a much sterner test in the first two quarters than many had anticipated. As the second half started, the game was still very much in doubt; however, the Wolverines erased that doubt almost immediately. Andrew Choe won the face off to start the half, pushing the ball forward and initiating a fast break. He found Paul Johnson at the point who delivered a perfect pass to Bethke on the back pipe. Bethke completed the tick-tack-toe break with a quick release lefty shot and just like that the Wolverines were up 5-1.
Minutes later, Bethke struck again, this time pressing his defender up field and then rolling back inside to get the advantage, and as he was pushed to his knees, he somehow managed to get off a shot that tucked inside the pipe for another Bellevue goal. Only moments later, McMahon got the ball behind the cage with the O'Dea defenders hung up on the other side of the net. In textbook fashion, he pressed the edge and drew a defender, then fed Johnson for a shot from the wing to push the lead to 7-1. Finally, after an O'Dea turnover, Bellevue got a fast restart and found Bethke streaking down the alley for a catch and finish that capped a 4 goal run in just a matter of minutes. All of a sudden, a game that felt much tighter than anticipated at the half had been broken open in the first several minutes of the third quarter.
The Bellevue defense continued to deny O'Dea opportunities, and the Wolverine offense continued clicking. The Wolverines had overcome their slow start, and by the time it was over, Bellevue had cruised to a comfortable, if not dominant, 14-1 victory, propelling themselves into the state semi-finals yet again.
MERCER ISLAND, WA - The crowd was buzzing with anticipation as yet another match-up between the two rivals separated by a just a few miles and a narrow strip of water got underway. The Islander student body filled their half of the stands, waiting to unleash their "MER-CER, ISL-AND" chant and any other creative choruses they might dream up. They got a chance to exercise their lungs early as an Islander attackman dodged from X, and when his defender slipped, he took advantage, slipping one past the goalie to give the Islanders the lead.
That would be the islanders only lead of the night, though, as the game everyone had anticipated never materialized. The Wolverines made sure of that with stifling defense and a potent offense, led by an astounding 8 goal outburst from junior Augie Fratt. The midfielder scored in a variety of ways, as he carved up the MI defense who was helpless against his assaults.
As impressive as Fratt's performance was, the defense was even more dominant. Sophomore Cabe Edelhertz got the start in goal and made several nice saves, but the Bellevue defense limited the shots on goal as they smothered the Islander offense. The Wolverines pressured MI relentlesssly, forcing numerous turnovers on the day. Jack Albrecht, playing in his final regular season game against MI, looked like a man possessed as he was all over the field on Friday. Albrecht was a major thorn in the side of the Islanders, recording an astounding seven takeaways on the night. His fellow long pole, Michael Medzegian, was equally effective, shutting down the Islanders top attackman and poaching il-advised Islander passes, turning them into fastbreak opportunities for the Wolverines.
Offensively, Bellevue had their way with the Islanders. Fratt led the way, and four other Wolverines found the net as well. Senior Joe Bethke had two assists, adding to his team leading 22 helpers on the season.
As the clock ticked down, the crowd of MI students shuffled out of the stadium and the Islander players had to watch their rivals celebrate a Kingco championship on their own field. Who knows what the future will hold, as these two teams could easily meet again in the playoffs, but for now bragging rights belong to the blue and gold as they savor victory in the biggest regular season game of the year.
It was senior night last Friday and the class of 2016 was celebrated and seven seniors were honored at half time of the game vs. Mt. Si. The class of 2016 featured several strong contributors to the Wolverines recent success, including 3-year varsity players Michael Medzegian, Jack Albrecht and Joe Bethke who have played in the last two State Championship games and hope to make it a third later this month. Bethke, the last of three Bethke brothers to play at Bellevue, is headed to Mt. St. Mary's to continue his lacrosse career in college. Andrew Choe has been Bellevue's face-off man the last two seasons, and will also be playing collegiate lacrosse at Swarthmore College in Philadelphia, PA next year. Cole Bouwman has battled stiff competition at the goalie position, seizing a starting role last year as a junior, and Andrew Blasko, a relative late-comer to lacrosse has been a key contributor at the defensive midfield position. Lastly, Riley McKay, who's playing career was cut short by an unfortunate knee injury, has remained a fixture on the sidelines in 2016 helping out wherever possible and enjoying the camaraderie of the team.
We congratulate all of the seniors on their careers at BHS, and wish them the best of luck as they head off to the next stage of their young lives. For more pictures of the senior night festivities, click here.