All Spartans want is a state title

Mariah Walk (top) and Lexi Schmidt are two of the many players ready to lead Bainbridge to a state title this season.  Both helped the Spartans defeat North Kitsap 20-2 Wednesday. Walk had two goals.  - Brad Camp/Staff Photo
Mariah Walk (top) and Lexi Schmidt are two of the many players ready to lead Bainbridge to a state title this season. Both helped the Spartans defeat North Kitsap 20-2 Wednesday. Walk had two goals.
— image credit: Brad Camp/Staff Photo

It’s state or bust for the girls’ LAX team.

The Bainbridge girls’ lacrosse team is saying it loud and proud: They want a state title this season.

“We’ve tried to talk about the past,” head coach Tami Tommila said. “But now that they’ve gone through the growing pains for the past couple of years, there’s no reason why they shouldn’t win the whole thing this season.

“If they don’t this year, we’ve failed – miserably.”

Senior co-captains Natalie Evans and Lucy Schlesser agreed.

“We have to get the state title,” Schlesser said.

“I was the only one who’s won a state championship on this team in my freshman year,” Evans said. “But I didn’t participate much, so I don’t want to leave with that feeling of losing again.

“I’m sick of being second.”

And with what Tommila is calling “the most talented team we’ve had come out in years,” the confidence is high that the Spartans will bring home the gold in May.

Last season, Bainbridge dropped just one game and made it back to the championship game, but lost for the second straight year to Lakeside.

Though they lose five seniors, including top players in Tarie Couette, Marley Horne and Erin Gulbranson, 15 players return to make the Spartans strong.

Along with the two co-captains, who start at the attack position, senior midfielders Meghan Mendehall and co-captain Rachel Harmon, junior midfielders Sally Baumgartner and Mariah Walk and goalie Josephine Wallace all return.

Midfielder Elsie Love, attacker Sydney Whitaker and defenders Allie Smith, Lexi Schmidt and Emily Ross come back as well.

Tommila is happy to have so much talent return for another go.

“Our captains are going to be great leaders,” she said.

“Our midfielders – Mariah Walk and Sally Baumgartner – are the workhorses,” Tommila continued. “They’re probably the two top midfielders in the state.

“We have numerous goal scorers so I think that’s going to help us out in the long run, especially when we play stronger teams.”

Bainbridge has two wins under their belts thanks to their numerous goal scorers with an 18-7 win over Holy Names Monday and a 20-2 win over North Kitsap Wednesday.

Against the Cougars, Schlesser led the way with five goals.

Baumgartner, Evans and Walk also had hat tricks.

“On attack (against Holy Names) it felt really good because it was (mostly) the same (lineup) as last year’s,” Schlesser said. “It didn’t feel like there were any kinks to work out.”

Against the Vikings, 11 different players scored goals – including Wallace, who came out of the cage in the second half and put one in.

Schlesser and Whitaker both had hat tricks.

Tommila said the team has improved thanks to playing summer lacrosse in the offseason.

Several newcomers to the team include freshman midfielder Jaclyn Biggers, who has impressed everyone.

“She’s going to be a starter,” Tommila said. “She’s definitely one to watch over the next few years and she’ll – I feel – be the next great one to come out of the program.

“She’s got good height and good stick skills when it comes to catching the ball at midfield,” Schlesser said. “We think she can contribute a lot to the team on the field.”

Tommila also felt freshman midfielder Liana Olson and junior defender Kelly MacWhorter – who was on the varsity B team last season – can make a contribution in some way.

While they’ll be strong offensively, defense is the biggest change, as all the starters either graduated or moved to other positions such as Harmon, who was moved to the midfield.

Tommila said it’ll take a few games to get the three – Schmidt, Ross and MacWhorter – on the same page.

Tommila also likes how much Wallace has improved.

“She had to get that (first) year under her belt as a varsity goalie because there was no (ex-starter) Dimi (Lotakis),” she said. “But she played over the summer and (against Holy Names Monday) she played with a lot of confidence and she made a lot of great saves.

“I think she’s the best goalie in the league. She’s getting a lot better technically.”

Despite feeling like the favorites, they’ll still face competition from a still dangerous Lakeside and improved teams in Mercer Island and Forest Ridge.

And Tommila said if they don’t take the title home this year, it may be time for a career change.

“I might go coach softball next year if this doesn’t happen,” she joked.

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