Girls LAX battle for title once again

Mariah Walk (right) puts the ball in play on the face off during their playoff win against Forest Ridge on Tuesday.  - Brad Camp/Staff Photo
Mariah Walk (right) puts the ball in play on the face off during their playoff win against Forest Ridge on Tuesday.
— image credit: Brad Camp/Staff Photo

Spartans defeat two tough teams in Forest Ridge and Mercer Island.

MERCER ISLAND – After a strong finish by Mercer Island that put them just one goal back of the Bainbridge girls lacrosse team at the end of the first half, head coach Tami Tommila told the team they had some decisions to make.

“(I said) do they want to be the leaders or do they want to be the followers?” she said. “Do you want Mercer to take something that you really want, which is to go back to state?”

The Spartans made their choice by scoring the first four goals of the second half en route to a 18-11 win over the Islanders in a state semifinal playoff game.

Bainbridge also defeated Forest Ridge 21-12 on Tuesday as they went on an 7-1 run in the second half to take the game over.

The win puts them in the championship game for yet another year.

“It just came down to who wanted it more,” Tommila said. “They just wanted it more. Mercer was the only thing standing in their way and they weren’t going to let that happen.”

Natalie Evans scored the first goal of the game after Rachel Harmon forced a turnover, but the Islanders came right back for the score to tie things up.

Bainbridge then went on a 6-0 run as Lucy Schlesser scored a hat trick while Sydney Whitaker, Sarah Shea and Sally Baumgartner scored as well.

Horne said having multiple players who can put the ball in the back of the cage is a great asset.

“It’s really spread out which we really like because you don’t have to depend on one person to carry the team,” she said.

But then the Islanders switched their defense around and cooled off the Spartans’ hot streak.

Mercer then got on track and reeled off a 6-1 run to go into the half down by one.

“They clawed themselves back into the game and made it a real good game,” Tommila said. “(Mercer head coach) Meg Ellison’s done a real good job with her team.”

But after making the necessary adjustments, Schlesser scored the first four goals of the second half, taking away any momentum Mercer Island had.

The defense and goalie Josefine Wallace did the rest, making stick checks at the right time to force turnovers – Mariah Walk came up big with 10 forced turnovers and 12 ground balls – while Wallace made some big stops.

“She was really, really great in the second half,” Tommila said. “She came back with a good game face and she really pumped up the defense and we were able to make good things happen in transition.”

Lauren Ito scored two goals to try and close the gap, but Bainbridge scored the last five goals to widen it back.

Now it’s down to just Bainbridge and arch rival Lakeside Saturday at 1 p.m. for the state title.

Tommila said they’re just thankful they’re playing for a championship.

“Whoever we face, it’ll be a wonderful game,” she said. “It’s an honor just to be going back to state.”

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