Spartans shut down Islanders

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In yet another boys lacrosse matchup between rivals Bainbridge and Mercer Island, there was the thought that Friday night’s game would be another close game, as it has been in years past.

Instead, the Spartan defense went into lockdown mode in the second half and took control en route to a 14-4 win over the Islanders in front of a good-sized crowd.

Bainbridge also defeated Maple Valley 16-7 Saturday night to stay undefeated against in-state opponents and run their record to 11-2 on the year.

It was a rough start for Bainbridge, as the Spartans had trouble connecting on their passes on the offensive side.

Mercer took advantage and scored the first two goals, as Simon Ho put in a bounce shot off an offensive rebound, while Jon Wettack found a hole in the Bainbridge defense and put one in.

Co-head coach Dejon Hush felt there was a lag coming back from California and having spring break, but thought there were some nervous feelings mixed in as well.

“This is probably the biggest crowd we’ve had out here in the past year,” he said. “The kids were a little rusty, but I feel they do a great job when the ball is on the ground or it’s (an) unsettled (situation) they move the ball around and find the open man.”

Bainbridge finally got on the board early in the second quarter thanks to utilizing some quick passes with the Mercer defense off balance, the last of which came from Sam Snow that found Jordan Wagner in front of the goal for the score.

After J.P. Bruckner was sent to the sidelines on an illegal check penalty, Jordan Foster took advantage of the man down situation by scoring two straight goals.

The latter came on a nice fake that caught the Islander defender off guard, allowing Foster to sneak in for the score.

“It was kind of hard (to find open spots) because they switch from man to zone so much,” Foster said. “So you just have to keep moving until you find one.”

Hush said that co-head coach Jack Visco implements elements from the Canadian style of lacrosse by utilizing picks and fakes to get open as they do in box lacrosse, which is more popular than field lacrosse in Canada.

“He tries to take anything he can to help the team out,” he said. “The kids are drawn to it – it’s sort of like And1 basketball. It helps the kids be creative and have fun with lacrosse.”

Wettack scored to keep things close, but Wagner followed up with another score off an assist from Snow while Max Olson put another nice fake on a Mercer defender to score and give Bainbridge a two-goal lead.

But Mercer took advantage of an unsettled situation as Daniel Shields scored off an assist Steven Taylor just before the half to cut the lead to one.

If there was any momentum to be gathered by the goal, it was swiftly knocked away by the Spartan defense in the second half as they kept right with the Islander attackers as if they were joined at the hip.

Even when they were in man down situations, the defense was able to kill the penalties with timely forced turnovers – Casey Weisner caused several as did Dayton Gilbreath, Trent Burroughs and Jake Hujar.

When Mercer got room to shoot they were high, wide or stopped by goalie Bryce Stevenson, who made several nice saves even with a crowd of players in front of him.

Kevin Nguyen helped out offensively as he scored to open the third quarter and assisted on another goal by Olson.

Snow scored off an assist from Evan Wright.

The fourth was all Bainbridge as Foster scored twice – one came off an assist from Olson – while Wagner scored another as did Snow.

“Jordan Wagner really impressed me tonight,” Foster said. “It’s nice to see that we’ll have something next year.

“I think Foster should get sick every week,” Hush joked.

“Wagner has been stepping it up slowly but surely,” he continued. “Taking that step from the freshman-sophomore team last year to varsity this year is a big step and he’s taken it with composure. He’s a great kid to have around.”

Dugan McDermott finished off the 8-0 run by scoring after gathering a ground ball out of a scrum in front of the Mercer goal.

Despite the win, Hush said he never felt comfortable with the lead once.

“That game felt like a one, two goal game the entire game, right to the end,” he said. “We had our times when we scored, but it was tough. They played tough to the very end.

“It never felt like we were running away with it like we have been (doing) to a couple teams this season.”

Bainbridge travels to Curtis Wednesday, then host Eastlake Friday at 7:30 p.m.

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