Sports

The trophy comes home!

(Above, L-R) Ross Cobb, Fiore Alailima and Bryce Stevenson hold up the trophy after Bainbridge took the title Saturday in their championship game against Mercer Island. The Spartans won the match 9-7 for their first lacrosse varsity A trophy since 2003. (Left) Bryan Gilbreath fights through a Islander defender and his stick during third quarter action at Seattle Center’s Memorial Stadium Saturday. More photos from the game can be found at the link on the left side of the website.  - Brad Camp/Staff Photos
(Above, L-R) Ross Cobb, Fiore Alailima and Bryce Stevenson hold up the trophy after Bainbridge took the title Saturday in their championship game against Mercer Island. The Spartans won the match 9-7 for their first lacrosse varsity A trophy since 2003. (Left) Bryan Gilbreath fights through a Islander defender and his stick during third quarter action at Seattle Center’s Memorial Stadium Saturday. More photos from the game can be found at the link on the left side of the website.
— image credit: Brad Camp/Staff Photos

Sparts gets big performances from Stevenson, others to defeat Mercer, take home first state title since ‘03.

SEATTLE – When the horn sounded, the first person the Bainbridge boys lacrosse team ran to was – who else – Bryce Stevenson.

The sophomore goalkeeper, big in the cage all season for the Spartans, had 15 saves to help Bainbridge win their first varsity A lacrosse trophy since 2003, defeating arch rival Mercer Island 9-7 at Memorial Stadium at Seattle Center Saturday night.

The win also cements an undefeated season for the Spartans.

In a fantastic game that saw plenty of big hits and big plays from players on both sides, Stevenson came up with some big saves of his own in front of a stellar offense including All-American attacker Greg Mahoney.

Stevenson admitted he was feeling the pressure of the big game at first.

“It was a little intimidating, but once you get past the first few minutes you just sink right into it,” he said.

Defenders Bryan and Dayton Gilbreath raved about Stevenson afterwards.

“Bryce was on fire!” Dayton exclaimed. “He was so good. He saved us so many times.”

“He was phenomenal,” Bryan said. “The best game he’s ever played. Phenomenal.”

The two brothers did their part in the win as well, as Bryan won the opening draw and immediately came down to score the first goal of the game.

But Mahoney came right back to work his way past the defense and put in a shot to tie things up.

That was the last goals for the two teams for most of the first quarter.

With a minute left, Taylor Dawson fired a one bouncer into the back of the net, but Bainbridge came right back when Max Olson got a pass from Dylan Masi and put one in to keep things tied.

In the second quarter, Jordan Foster worked his way around the Islander defense to notch another score, but Mahoney caught the defense off guard and put in a great running shot.

“He proved (tonight) that he’s head and shoulders above everyone as the best offensive weapon in the state,” co-head coach Dejon Hush said of Mahoney’s performance. “Shooting on the run is the hardest thing to do and he does it with grace and beauty.”

But the Spartans made some pretty plays of their own.

Defender Casey Weisner made a tremendous pass to Casey Skelton, who then quickly dumped it to Snow who caught the goalie out of position for the score and the lead.

But with 21 seconds left, Mahoney put one back in to tie things up at the half.

In the third quarter Bainbridge got two great scores to take the lead.

After the offense worked around the Mercer defense to get an open look, Olson found his spot and didn’t hesitate, rocketing one past nearly every Islander defender and the goalie for the goal.

Masi got another score of his own as a reward for his hustle.

After he made a great save and one-handed pass to Dayton to keep a ground ball from going out of bounds, he scored at the 6:05 mark as he was falling down with a defender on top of him all the way.

“It was hard to score,” Masi said of the pressure they faced from the Islander defense. “They came out hard on us and we were scared a bit. But once we started getting into our flow, we started taking it to them.”

That flow was hard to come by, though, as Mercer got a score from Michael Choe after a long offensive possession, then Mahoney scored just 20 seconds later to tie the game and send the momentum to Mercer’s side.

“We were kind of hesitant and didn’t play with confidence,” Bryan said of their effort through the first three quarters. “Luckily we got it back at the end before time ran out.

“It was definitely not one of the best games we’ve played all year, but we’ll take it.”

Hush said they as coaches did their best to keep them on the task at hand.

“We want to stay focused,” he said. “When we score goals, we want it to be like a regular business day. We want it to feel like we score goals all the time.

“So when they score goals you don’t want to think of it as getting down. It was great for us to show some character and work through that.”

They did just that in the fourth.

After a long scoreless drought that saw numerous shots go everywhere but the net (and even saw Mercer’s goalie Adam Bowen take the ball up the field and make a shot, only for Stevenson to make the save) Masi finally got one in at the 7:31 mark to give Bainbridge the lead.

“Dylan works hard on and off the field,” Stevenson said. “Whenever I see the ball on the ground, he’s always coming up with it.”

Masi did it again when he caught a rebound off a missed shot and quickly fed it to Olson for the score with 4:54 left in the game.

Dawson put one in with 4:26 left, but Snow came back with the play of the game when he caught a pass and somehow hung onto the ball through two crushing checks.

He then completed a pass to Dayton who worked his way through the defense and put one in with 4:06 left.

“I was standing there just saying ‘I’m open! I’m open!’” Dayton said. “I have no idea (how he hung on).”

The coaches from Mercer didn’t know either, as they asked the refs to check for an illegal stick.

“I thought it was on me,” Dayton said.

“Everyone got a stick check before the game so we weren’t worried,” Bryan said.

The refs counted the goal and that was that for the Islanders. The Spartans did their best to run out the clock but when Mercer had the ball, they couldn’t get enough ground balls to keep possession as time ran out on their title hopes.

Hush said they’re glad they can bring the title back to the island.

“It feels good to get the proverbial monkey off your back,” he said.

Bryan and Dayton were understandably happy as well – not just for the win and the undefeated season, but do it against their rival in Mercer Island.

“It’s the only way we wanted it,” Dayton said. “And a perfectly good last game! Close to the end!”

“I would rather have it (be) a blowout, but close games are a little more fun,” Bryan said.

Along with the All-State and All-American selections announced in the Review, Bryan and Masi were selected as nominees to the U.S. Lacrosse National High School Senior Showcase held at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in Denver, Colo. June 22-24.

Bainbridge was also awarded the Everet Smith Team Sportsmanship Award at the game.

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