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BHS advances to next round of LAX playoffs
Nobody puts Bainbridge in a corner.
It’s a true fact and a hard lesson that the visiting Skyline Spartans learned the hard way after suffering a 10-9 loss in overtime at the hands and sticks of the Bainbridge High varsity boys lacrosse team Tuesday, May 20.
The first-round playoff game was a turbulent roller coaster ride of alternating despair and excitement, with an eventual come-from-behind victory worthy of an epic '80s soundtrack.
The win in overtime was the first ever accomplished by any Bainbridge boys lacrosse team, said Spartan Co-head Coach Jack Visco.
The speedy Bainbridge Spartans zigged, zagged and danced their way around Skyline’s defenses for an early lead, but the visitors proved equally fleet of foot and managed to even things up 3-3 by the end of the first quarter.
BHS began to pull away about midway through the second quarter – leading 4-3 with 6:20 remaining – but found themselves a goal behind by the end of the half.
Leading 5-4 at the start of the third quarter, Skyline proceeded to rack up some critical mid-game goals and extended their lead to 8-5 by the end of the quarter.
Things were looking bleak for the home team, and BHS seemed incapable of getting back in front despite some successful offensive moves. Skyline continued to lead 9-6 with 7:12 left, but that’s as far as things got as the BHS Spartans set the stage for a slow-motion video montage-worthy return.
Scoring two critical goals in rapid succession, the Bainbridge Spartans managed to nearly close the gap on Skyline, trailing by only one goal with just over three minutes of play left.
Bainbridge ultimately cut their comeback a little too close for comfort for some, and knotted the score to 9-9 with only 7.9 seconds left to go.
The crowd was positively fervent, and tempers flared among the spectators. So much so, that at least one fan was made to leave by game officials for being disruptive. Indeed, by the end of the nail-biting conclusion at least two units from the Bainbridge Island Police Department were on the scene, having been called in response to increasing antagonism in the stands.
The clock ran out, and the game proceeded into sudden death overtime.
A controversial climax ensued as Skyline appeared to score first and clinch the victory.
The team was so sure of the win, in fact, that the players started celebrating. Skyline players tossed their helmets, tackled each other into a victory dog pile, and one player ran to midfield and began a series of acrobatic flips.
Then they heard the whistles. The officials called Skyline offsides and erased the apparently game-winning goal.
A deafening cheer erupted from the Bainbridge side of the stands, and play continued – despite much outcry from Skyline fans and coaches.
Cue the victory music.
BHS junior midfielder Michael Rose scored the winning goal moments later, with a scant 1:58 remaining.
“That was a Maalox masher,” laughed Spartan Co-head Coach Cody Bludorn. “You need the Tums for that one.”
Bludorn said that the idea that the offsides call stole the win away from Skyline — as some in the crowd were arguing — was inaccurate.
“They had another chance to score after that,” Bludorn said. “You got to play to the finish.”
Considering the game as a whole, Bludorn said that he was honestly unimpressed with the performance of the BHS team in comparison to their opponent, despite the win.
This victory for Bainbridge was ultimately more about heart and an unwillingness to quit, as well as the team’s ability to “out hustle” the visitors, he said.
“I thought [we] got outplayed the entire night,” he admitted. “We came out offensively and scored a couple of goals there quickly, but their guys really settled down and I give them a lot of credit. Tonight they came out and played with a higher level of intensity than our boys, and really owned the ground ball battle. If we lost that game, I would just show the kids the stat sheet and say, ‘Hey, this is where you lost the game.’”
Except, of course, that they didn’t lose.
Bludorn praised the team’s endurance, physically and emotionally, and said that there had been an obvious low point in the game when it would have been too easy for them to give up.
“It’s all hustle,” he said. “I credit the kids for not quitting the entire time. We were down four goals with six minutes left, [they showed] great heart and it’s nice to win one of those games. These kids don’t quit on each other and they don’t quit on themselves.”
The game saw standout performances by several Spartans.
Jack Frickleton finished the game with three goals, two assists and two ground balls. Rose managed two goals, including the game-winner, and one ground ball.
Max Wickline contributed one goal and two assists, while teammate Ben LaRoche added one goal, one assist and five ground balls.
Thomas Daniels finished the night with one goal and five ground balls himself, and Jackson Larkin added one goal.
BHS goalie Reynolds Yarbrough finished the game with 10 saves.
In addition to breaking the legendary Bainbridge OT curse, the win means advancement for the Spartans to the next round of the playoffs. The team next faced off against Tahoma High on the road Thursday, May 22.
A win there would give BHS an advancement to the semi-finals, and a possible shot at competing for the state championship, said Bludorn.
“A win’s a win,” he explained, saying that the team’s toughest challenge now is to focus on the future.
“The playoffs are all about surviving and moving on. You can’t dwell on it. It’s right on to the next game, and Tahoma is going to be a tough matchup,” he said. “They’re going to come out hard, and we just have to make sure that our intensity level’s up a little bit higher.”