Sports

Spartans stick it to the Brits

Bainbridge girls take two in friendly face-off with Royal School.

In a rare cross-pond match the Bainbridge and Kitsap girls lacrosse teams challenged England’s Royal School of Surrey.

The two day face-off reunited Bainbridge’s state champion team in a cultural and physical match against one of England’s predominant lacrosse schools.

“It’s really nice to see some competition that we haven’t seen since the season,” said Bainbridge’s Alex Winnicki. “It’s refreshing to be back together because we’re such a close team.”

Kitsap’s lacrosse team mustered enough players to make the game despite summer-time vacationers. Last year’s Kitsap team lost to Bellevue in the Division B State Championship.

Both Bainbridge and Kitsap proved to be formidable opponents for their international rivals.

“We’ve won a few games since we’ve been in the States,” said Royal School’s Emma Gable. “But we were very nervous about playing Bainbridge.”

That nervousness became nerve-wracking as Bainbridge won their first game against England’s A team, 16-1, on Monday, and returned on Tuesday to best the B team, 11-2.

Bainbridge took advantage of the Royal School’s strict positional defense in Tuesday’s game. Their inability to slide defensively allowed for Bainbridge’s senior captain Kathryn Bachen to score four times in the second half. All-American Emily Robinson also weaved through the British defenses to score twice.

“This second game has been a lot more challenging than the last,” Robinson said. “But, we are still feeling a little out of shape.”

“The English are a bit more of a physical team because they play an international rule, which has a lot more contact than the American rule,” said Bainbridge coach Tami Tommila. “It was fun and a good opportunity for our girls.”

Split decision

Kitsap won their first game on Monday but were bested on Tuesday by Surrey’s A team, 4-2. Defensive stonewalling by England’s goalkeeper Ruth Malthouse caused Kitsap’s offense to stutter.

“I hope we’ll hear from them again,” said Val Torrens, the Kitsap’s head coach. “Next year we will be better prepared.”

The English team is composed of girls age 13-19. Some are just beginners, but a few play for Purley County’s national team in Southern England.

The school team is on a two week lacrosse tour of the Northwest which began in Vancouver, B.C., and will loop through the Puget Sound area before finishing this weekend in Canada.

Along the way the girls are also playing netball, a British spin-off of basketball.

This is the fourth time the Royal School has toured the States, but the first time they have been to the Northwest.

“So far the competition has been really tough,” said Surrey coach Karen Owen. “But, I would have to say the Baltimore area has been the most challenging for us since we have begun touring.”

Bainbridge and Kitsap housed the English team over the two-day period, which culminated in a send-off barbecue Tuesday night.

The experience gave the Bainbridge team a desire to seek out international play.

“Our parents are trying to get on board to do a trip overseas somewhere,” Tommila said. “All of Great Britain is a hotbed for lacrosse, and we’re thinking about that. We’re also looking into Japan and Australia.

“But really both these games were just an opportunity for the girls to get back together and play this summer.”

The Bainbridge team will come together again in March looking to repeat last year’s 18-0 season.

The occasion was also a great cultural experience for girls from both isles.

“It’s been different to what you would expect from seeing so many American movies,” said Brit Lucy Brown.

“Everything is a lot bigger here and it’s more laid-back, but it has been harder with the heat and with all the travelling since everything is so spread out. It really makes you tired.”

At the end of the game, the English raised their sticks and gave a traditional “Hip, Hip, Hooray” to their Bainbridge opponents.

“It’s been a great experience. They’ve been giving us their lingo, too, like they call cleats, boots,” Bachen said.

“Maybe we’ll even have to try that little ‘Hip, Hip, Hooray’ thing next year.”

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