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STATE CHAMPS! Bainbridge beats Lake Sammamish to retain state title in girls lacrosse
Short on goals and players, the Spartans battled back from a halftime deficit with two players in the penalty box to beat Lake Sammamish 13-11 in the Washington Lacrosse Girls State Championship Saturday.
The victory at Eastside Catholic School in Sammamish marked the fourth time the Spartans have won back-to-back titles in the championship game, but the first time since 2005 that the team has accomplished the feat.
Bainbridge head coach Tami Tommila said her halftime speech was simple.
"One goal at a time," Tommila recalled.
Turns out, that's what Bainbridge needed to win against a pesky Lake Sam squad that also showed no sense of quit.
The Spartans trailed at the start, then tied the game twice before taking a 4-3 lead after a score by Olivia Smith, her second of three in the first half, at 14:44.
The Spartans clawed their way to a 5-3 advantage after Theo Fehsenfeld's solo shot from center goal over a group of Lake Sam defenders at the 11:00 mark.
But then, Lake Sammamish surged.
Allison Clements — a Lake Washington High senior playing for Lake Sam, a combined team of eight Eastside high schools — fired in two goals over a 62-second span to knot the score at 5-5.
Clements scored again with one second left in the first half to put Lake Sam up, 8-7.
Bainbridge also lost two players to the penalty box in the final seconds; Smith was sent to the sidelines for a dangerous follow-through when her club struck the face of the Lake Sam player on a goal (called back), and Chase McMahon was also sent out after a foul for dangerous play.
Despite being down on the scoreboard, and on the field, the Spartans rallied for the win - despite a goal, again by Clements — that started the second half.
"Our team — there was no die in them," Tommila said. "even down a goal at the half, having to start the second half playing down two players."
"We held them," she said. "You could really feel that shift. Once that shift happened, they were in control. And then their will took over."
Three minutes into the second, senior Kelsey Mackin scored at 21:57 to spark the Spartans' comeback and cut Lake Sam's lead to 8-7.
Bainbridge scored six of the next seven goals to lead 13-9, the key score coming after a flurry of calls against both sides.
Grace Deery-Schmitt was hit with a yellow card for a shot to the head against Lake Sammamish. A subsequent shot on goal by Lake Sammamish's Alexandra Johnson then went wide; Spartan Cappy Yabrough was then called for a body foul and Anna Bernard's following shot was stopped by Spartan goalie Maddie Stephanson.
After two spear calls against Lake Sam, Smith threatened to score again but was chased down behind the net by three Lake Sam defenders.
Smith worked her way back to the front and fired through the knot to give Bainbridge the three-point advantage, 12-9, at the 8:11 mark.
Fehsenfeld quickly followed with another goal for Bainbridge to put the Spartans ahead, 13-9, at 7:27.
A goal by Amelia Chirichigno pulled Lake Sam to 13-11 at the 3:56 mark, but a subsequent goal by Spartan Bea Sheffer was waved off after she picked up a yellow card for a dangerous foul with 15 seconds left to play.
The Spartans' experience proved the difference late, when Bainbridge grabbed the lead and held it, said coach Tommila.
"It was just experience over their young players," she said.
"And Maddie was spectacular in the goal. She really came up with the saves we needed," Tommila said.
"It was a great game to play in," she added. "A lot of people said, you know, our state game was on Tuesday, against Mercer."
It wasn't, of course.
"Both Lake Sam and I really came out and both of us just played an outstanding game of lacrosse. It's unfortunate that somebody had to lose. Tony [D'Alessio] had a great game plan and I thought they played brilliantly. So lots of credit to them," Tommila said.
Bainbridge High finished the regular season with 10 wins in a row before dispatching Overlake 17-5 in the quarterfinals and Mercer Island 24-18 in the semifinals.
Smith said the Spartans had trouble finding their groove in the championship game.
"It was a slow start for us," she said.
"And being down at the half, with two yellow cards, myself included, that was a very stressful time," Smith said.
She recalled sitting in the penalty box with McMahon as the game continued without them.
"I just looked at her and I was like, 'We can't lose today,'" she said.
"We both had to play so clean, so controlled. I tried my best not to shoot for the longest time. I was scared of getting the dangerous follow-through," Smith said.
But for the seniors, herself included, none wanted to leave with a loss.
"It's proof that our team has come together as a family and none of us could have done this on our own. We saw each other with great connections, we worked together on defense, and although we had numerous calls on us and fouls, we still kept our composure," Smith said.
"We deserve this. We did the work to get here," added Sheffer,
"We have ups and downs in the game, and that's just how it goes," she said.
This team was unique, the coach said, because of the leadership shown by the six Spartan seniors.
"In other years, we've won where we haven't had this many seniors. Last year's seniors were also really special," Tommila said. "But I really like how this group created their own identity, and took over, that it was going to be their experience."
"You couldn't replicate what happened last year. And they didn't try to," she said. "They wanted to sort of live in their moment this year, and they really did.
"I'm so proud of them. They earned it today, they really did," Tommila said.
Smith led Bainbridge with four goals and one assist.
Fellow Spartan Fehsenfeld added three goals (plus two assists, and two draw controls), Grace Deery-Schmitt had two goals (three ground balls, four draw controls, two caused turnovers), Mackin added two goals (three draw controls), and Paige Brigham contributed a goal (one ground ball).
Stevenson had 10 saves for the Spartans.
Allison Clements paced Lake Sam with four goals. Sarah Wyrick and Alexandra Johnson added two goals each.