Storied program just gets stronger

Lacrosse has been one of the fastest growing sports on the island for the past 10 years.

After winning the state title in each of the even years of the new millennium, the Bainbridge girls club wants to be the first to repeat as champions since the Spartan title run of 1994-96.

Coach Tammy Tommila is refining an already skilled squad that brings back 11 seniors from the team that won it all last May at Qwest Field.

“The quality of our program reflects the commitment and contributions of the parents and coaches,” she said. “Kids are getting started playing in the third and fourth grade,” which means stick-handling and fundamental field tactics are ingrained into the young player.

She highlights the assistant coaching at Bainbridge. At the high school level she is flanked by the JV and B team coach Jan Hill, who played for the University of Santa Clara, and is helped by former Bainbridge all-American Alana Martinez, who currently pursues an architectural degree at the UW.

“The players are so well prepared before they reach varsity A-team,” said Tommila.

The club sport is growing throughout the state of Washington, and this year the ranks of the top echelon have been expanded and divided into an East and West division. Joining is the North Kitsap club, which took the B division title last year. The club was started by former Bainbridge coach, Laurie Usher, who now teaches at Klahowya High School.

Starting with Overlake tonight, the Spartans face tough competition from outside the area. Other dates to circle on their schedule include April 18 versus North Kitsap, and April 22 when they host Seattle Prep. May brings always-solid Mercer Island on the 11th, and finishes with the return match at North Kitsap on May 13. The state championship games are scheduled for May 21 at Mercer Stadium.

Leading players for Bainbridge include captains Christin Toepel in midfield, Amy Gulbranson on defense and Kathryn Bachen attacking.

Despite the glamour of scoring, the emphasis on team defense exemplifies the commitment Tommila and the Spartan girls have, as a chief stepping-stone to their championship aspirations.

Toepel leads the team in ground balls scooped with nine in three games played. Others on defense to watch include seniors Grace Davis and Lindsay Lund, who led Spartans soccer to a state quarterfinal finish at state last fall.

Goalkeeper Dimi Lotakis has a 2.67 goals against average, turning away almost two-thirds of the 21 shots she has faced so far this year (13 saves).

That percentage will be plenty, especially if the Spartans continue at their 18 goals-per-game clip. Overlake comes in tonight nearly a mirror of Bainbridge, with a 17 GPG average in their two wins.

The Bainbridge attack is literally spread across a deep field. With Hannah Davis missing last night’s game, the Spartans could have had seven players with seven or more points after three games.

Alex Winnicki leads the team with 13 tallies, followed by Jane Baumgartner with nine and Kathryn Bachen with seven. Colbi Brawner, herself with three goals, leads in assists with five.

Fun to watch are the midfielders, from senior Annie Kent – six goals, seven ground balls – to freshman Natalie Evans who has three scores already in two games.

“Natalie shows great promise,” said Tommila surrounded by seniors celebrating her score against Lakeside. “She’s a basketball player who has come in with a good idea (about this sport).”

The home games are played at Memorial stadium with the varsity face-off at 6 p.m., and grilled hamburgers for the fans.

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