Spring Sports Preview: In search of the perfect lacrosse season

The Bainbridge boys lacrosse team isn’t wasting any time finding out how good they are this year. The Spartans open their season this weekend in the Northwest Lacrosse Invitational, hosted by Mercer Island and featuring some of the nation’s top lacrosse programs.

Tomorrow they take on Bountiful, a Utah high school. On Sunday they face Montgomery Bell Academy, which is located in Nashville, Tenn. Both teams are highly regarded in their respective states.

While the games will have no direct bearing on the Spartans’ league record, they provide an important first step toward the team’s goal: overcoming the disappointment of last year’s 11-9 loss to Issaquah in the state championship finals after leading at halftime.

“Our goal is a perfect season,” said senior preseason All-American candidate and co-captain Sam Snow. “It was the worst feeling when we lost. We went into the game kind of cocky.”

Coach Jack Visco, who works closely with fellow coach Dejon Hush, added another possible reason for the defeat: It was not only an especially hot day – hotter still because of the sun reflecting off the turf at Memorial Stadium in Seattle – it was also the day after the school’s senior prom.

Snow and the other seniors are doing everything they can to realize their goal. While he, Bryce Stevenson, Dugan McDermott and Kevin Nyugen are the official co-captains, other seniors such as Will Nunes, Bjorn Ostenson, Sam Deery-Schmitt, Ben Skotheim and Will Indvik have assumed leadership roles.

In some cases, those leadership roles extend beyond the high school. Nguyen and McDermott, for example, run the lacrosse program for third and fourth graders.

“Our senior leadership is unbelievable,” said Visco. “They’ve done a great job running all the pre-season stuff and mentoring the younger kids. Collectively they’ve taken over the team whether they’re a captain or not.”

He added, “This is the closest group of kids I’ve worked with,” citing two senior goalies, Eli Patmont and Cole Sahleen, as examples. “They’ll never see the field, but they do whatever they need to in order to be a part of the team. They want to be with their friends.”

In addition to the seniors, Visco singled out several juniors who are likely to play pivotal roles this year: Jordan Wagner, Dominic Crowley and Connor Mackin. Key sophomores include Alex Crane, Cameron Parker, and Jacob Goodman. Jason Ashton stands out among the freshmen.

Snow, Nguyen and Ostenson are among the primary attackers. Primary defenders include Nunes, McDermott, Skotheim and Indvik. Stevenson is a fixture in goal, a position he took up somewhat by accident and plans on maintaining in college.

Visco is particularly enamored of the new turf field in Memorial Stadium. “Turf makes all the difference in the world,” he said, noting that the former grass field changed in texture depending on the weather. Turf, in the other hand, is invariable. As a result, “we know exactly where we have to hit the ball in front of the crease,” he explained.

After their home opener next Friday evening against Lakeside, the team spends most of the next five weeks on the road, including potentially key games at Mercer Island (April 18) and at Issaquah (April 28). A home game against Bellevue on May 1 begins the final five-game stretch, four of which are here.

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