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A familiar goal for Bainbridge girls lacrosse — playing for the state title come May | SPRING SPORTS PREVIEW
The future of Bainbridge lacrosse has arrived.
That said, history has been kind to the Spartan girls team.
Bainbridge is defending its state crown this season — the girls won their ninth state title last year — but will do so by fielding a younger line-up thanks to the loss of six senior starters to graduation.
There are eight returning players on a varsity roster of 21. Just four are seniors.
A large crop of talented underclassmen coming up through the program means that a few juniors from the varsity squad will play on the junior varsity team.
Some of the players moving up from JV, however, also wear the title of “champion.” Bainbridge won the JV state title in girls lacrosse last year.
“We’ve had a couple of people switch teams because we’ve got a real strong incoming freshmen group, and a real strong sophomore group that played on the JV team last year,” said Spartan Coach Tami Tommila.
“It’s good. We have lots of young talent,” she said.
Young talent, indeed. Two freshman and three sophomores are starters on this year’s team.
“That’s OK. It’s part of the growth of our sport on Bainbridge,” Tommila explained. “These incoming freshman have been playing longer than our seniors, because they started in second grade.”
“It’s nice to have a young group,” Tommila added, drawing a contrast with last year’s team. “With six seniors, with strong personalities ... we had to work through a lot of stuff. We had a lot of people who wanted to be the CEO of the team. So they had to work through that and the other kids kind of had to wait in the wings until they dealt with X, Y and Z.”
“We don’t have that drama. Which is really nice,” she said.
It’s not just athletes that have moved up from JV. So has Lisa Hill, who coached the Spartan JV team to the state crown last year.
Hill will join Tommila as she enters her 18th year on the Spartan sideline, and the JV team will be led by Barb Reibsamen and Lea Szaley.
Returning seniors include goalie Madeline Stevenson, attackers Emily Madsen and Courtney Parker and midfielder/defensive wing Regan Wortley.
Team captains are Stevenson, Wortley and Sallie Marx.
Top newcomers include freshman midfielders Sonia Olson and Amy Willerford.
“I think Sonia Olson is going to be spectacular,” Tommila said. “She’s confident; she has a really good skill set. She’s a multi-sport athlete, so she does other things, which is kind of refreshing.
“She’s got like ice in her veins or something. Nothing seems to phase her,” the coach said. “And she’s humble, and I like that.”
Willerford, likewise, is a very athletic and coachable player.
In fact, the Bainbridge team is loaded with players who have come in knowing the Spartans’ expectations for hard work and commitment.
“These kids are so enjoyable to coach. It’s a different energy this year,” Tommila said.
“Last year was great, don’t get me wrong,” she quickly added. “It was pretty lucky for me to coach those kids last year. But this is really fun because they learn, and then they apply it. And you can see the growth in them.”
The Spartans’ style of play may also look a bit different. Gone is the high-speed of attack, led by then-senior Kelsey Mackin, that made last year’s team so dominating.
“Every game is going to look different than it did last year,” Tommila said.
“I think what’s nice is you won’t see the blowouts. Other teams are going to put some goals by us,” she said.
Part of that is the youth of the Spartan defense. On the scoring side, the Spartans will look to make up for the loss of Mackin.
“I think losing someone like a Kelsey Mackin in the midfield - I’ve never seen a kid faster. It takes away your fast break,” Tommila said.
Mackin, the coach added, made goals look “ridiculously easy” last year.
“Our strategy in games is going to look different. Our goals are going to be a lot more methodically attained,” she said.
Though Lakeside is always a formidable foe, the Spartans will face other major challenges this year. There’s state runner-up Lake Sammamish, for one, that boasts plenty of returners from last year’s No. 2 team. Mercer Island is also loaded with seniors, and Overlake is another team that has the Spartans on guard.
That said, another return to the state championship game is the penultimate goal for Bainbridge.
“Our goal is always the same. We want to play in that state game on the 17th. That’s the expectation. And it always has been,” Tommila said.