Stickmen hold off islanders

"It was the best of times and the worst of times for the Bainbridge varsity lacrosse team. An overwhelming first half more than made up for an underwhelming second, as the Spartans hung on the beat Mercer Island 14-10.The Spartans were masterful in the first half, taking an 8-1 lead. But the visiting Islanders roared back with nine second-half goals to turn what had been a laugher into a nail-biter.We have some very strong players on this team, coach Dave Low said, but we're maybe not as deep yet as we would like to be. The second half, we were a little tired - maybe more mentally than physically.The Spartans raced out of the blocks with the all-around form that has made them six-time state champions. After blunting Mercer Island's initial attacks, Bainbridge scored when Jesse Savage took a long clearing pass from the defense and fed Jeff Pratt for a fast-break goal. After Adam Smith logged an unassisted goal, senior co-captain Peter Vander Hoek took over. He scored a flashy over-the-shoulder goal off an assist from Jesse Fairbank, then scored off a Kelten Johnson assist as the first quarter ended with the hosts ahead 4-0.The second quarter was more of the same. Johnson, a senior, quarterbacked the offense, and logged assists on all four Bainbridge goals - two by Fairbank, a junior, one by Vander Hoek and one by Pratt, a senior.The visitors came out smoking in the second half, scoring three quick goals in less than six minutes. You have to give them and their coach credit, Low said. They have a quality team. They didn't make any changes in their offensive scheme, but they shot more, even if they didn't have the best shot. That and our mental errors got them back in the game.The Spartans slowed Mercer's momentum midway through the quarter when sophomore Adam Smith scored off an assist from Pratt, but Mercer scored again to come within four. Worse, the Spartans were penalized on that goal, and had to go a man down for the next minute. But in what could have been the game's decisive sequence, a swarming defense prevented further damage, and the period ended with Bainbridge ahead 9-5.The fourth quarter was a standoff. While the Islanders refused to die, scoring five goals, the Spartans answered with five goals of their own, two by Johnson, two by Pratt and one by Vander Hoek. Vander Hoek and Pratt were outstanding on offense, the coach said, pointing to Vander Hoek's five goals and Pratt's four. On defense, Low singled out junior Peter Bonoff, calling his play outstanding.Overall, I'm pretty pleased with the way things are going for so early in the season, the coach said. After playing Lakeside yesterday, the team will travel to San Francisco for a 16-team tournament March 31 and April 1. We should do okay in that tournament, Low said, but because it's our spring break and some of the kids had other plans, we won't have as many people as some of the California teams."

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