Mercer Island boys lacrosse beats Bainbridge for first title since 2006

For the first time since 2006, the Mercer Island boys lacrosse team reigns supreme in the state. The Islanders beat Bainbridge on Saturday evening 5-3 in the division I state championship. The Islanders, who have been in 10 of the last 11 state title games, finally captured the title after beating the Spartans for the second time this season.

"Our goal every year is to produce the best team that we can, both on the state level and nationally," said head coach Ian O'Hearn after the match. "We've been undefeated in the state three years in a row and although we've come up short in the championship, but we've been in the state championship 10 of the last 11 years so we're consistently producing great teams and we've come up short a couple times, but this year we didn't. It's like icing on the cake."

For the Spartans, it was an emotional game, coming up just short of their first title since 2007, when they beat the Islanders.

"The boys played hard," said Bainbridge head coach Jack Visco. "Great kids, great season from where they were."

Though Mercer Island won the game, Bainbridge scored first in the match with just under two minutes into the game. Mercer Island quickly followed with three more goals in the next several minutes for a 3-1 lead at the end of the first quarter.

"It was a different team we played this time," said senior captain Doug Mahony on differences between the two games the Islanders played against Bainbridge this spring. "They came out with a whole different game plan and came out hard."

O'Hearn said the Spartans used a lot of possession, which the Islanders had expected going into the game.

"We knew they were going to do that," said O'Hearn. I give Bainbridge a lot of credit. They came out with a specific game plan and they executed it and it worked. It didn't work well enough, but it worked."

The Islanders controlled the second quarter, but Bainbridge’s goalie, freshman Reynolds Yarbrough, held Mercer Island off, allowing just one additional goal in the second quarter. The first half ended with the Islanders leading 4-1.

Despite several solid chances in the third quarter, Mercer Island goalie Brian Bernstein held off the Spartans offense. Both sides ended the third quarter without scoring. But the Islanders quickly changed that with a goal 30 seconds into final 12 minutes for a 5-1 lead. Bainbridge scored with 10:59 left to play, followed by the final goal of the night with just under five minutes on the clock. Those final chances, though kept the Islanders ahead for the winner.

Islander goalie Brain Bernstein had 14 saves during the competition, helping secure the win for the team.

"He's probably just the best goalie we've ever had," said O'Hearn of Bernstein. "Between the pipes he's a phenomenal goalie and he won the game for us."

Matthew Shields ended his senior season with two goals during the game, while Zac Stickney had two, Mahony added another to the total. Bainbridge's Alex Crane had two goals and Jacob Knostman had the other for the Spartans. Yarbough made eight saves.

For the Islanders, celebrating their first title win in years, enjoyed their success in the moments after the end of the game.

"Hard work has its rewards," said O'Hearn. "These guys make a lot of sacrifices. We have a very strict no tolerance policy and they really stick to it. They don't go out and party on the weekends like a lot of other kids in the school. They sacrifice and they work harder in physical conditioning than any other team and this is what they get for it."

Mercer Island ended the season with a 21-2 overall record, and a 10-0 league record. Bainbridge was 18-3 this season.


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