Girls lacrosse | Youth gives Bainbridge an edge

Bainbridge attacker Sydney Whitaker drives past the Lake Sammamish line during BHS
Bainbridge attacker Sydney Whitaker drives past the Lake Sammamish line during BHS' 22-7 victory Wednesday.
— image credit: Brad Camp/For the Review

After four straight state championship losses to Lakeside, girls varsity lacrosse coach Tami Tommila believes that Bainbridge’s youth will make the difference this year.

“(The seniors) have an enormous sense of responsibility to the program and the thing is, I think they will (win),” she said. “I think they will because of these younger players chipping in opportunities that they need.”

The team graduated seven seniors, and only returns three this year: co-captains Delaney Larkin, Sydney Whitaker and Joanna Shea. Junior Jaclyn Biggers also serves as a captain.

“It’s a different culture than last year,” Tommila said. “They knew how to have fun, but they were a pretty intimidating, serious group to our younger players.”

For Larkin, a three-year letter-winner, the team’s chemistry is like jambalaya.

“We’re all kind of different,” she said. “We all come from different areas and have different philosophies about our own playing, but we can come together.”

The team, which fields seven new starters, opened the season with a state championship rematch at Lakeside, and fell 20-10.

“Our four captains had been there but they were so overwhelmed by their experience last year,” Tommila said.

The team also had a brand-new goalkeeper in freshman Madeline Stevenson.

“They played as well as they could play that day,” Tommila said. “From that day, we’ve been teaching and learning. They didn’t have that attitude, ‘That’s as good as we can be.’ They recognize, ‘Wow, we have a lot we can do.’”

Teaching wasn’t something Tommila needed to do with last season’s squad, which adds a new element to this year’s team.

“This is more enjoyable – coming out and teaching kids because they’re just like sponges,” Tommila said. “They want to learn, whereas last year there’s no mistakes. That was last year and this year they’re just creating an environment that I think is really fun.”

An important point of focus has been teaching the players how to take risks on the field.

“They’re academically very very bright and they have a hard time with making mistakes,” she said. “They don’t want to take risks. They want to think it through. Spontaneity – not so much. You have to teach them that – to take chances and it’ll be ok.”

Bainbridge has won five league games in a row, and three of four contests in Arizona over Spring Break.

“The difference between the team from (Lakeside) to where we are today is night and day,” Tommila said.

The team is continuing to mature, and the pieces are still coming together.

“We lost an All-American and most of our speed,” Whitaker said. “It’s really been trial and error. Our center, she was a senior last year, and Jaclyn is stepping up to that position.”

Bainbridge’s midfield is also very young, Larkin said.

“It shows in games. You have to really want the ball. They’re young but they’re really talented. Everyone gets moved in and out of the middle depending on who plays.”

Bainbridge’s next test will be Mercer Island on April 29.

“We have a big discrepancy in the league,” Whitaker said. “We’ve had two-thirds of the tougher games already so we’re waiting to play the mercer island game. We’re kind of coasting in between.”

The team defeated Lake Sammamish 22-7 Wednesday.

Seven players scored, with the captains combining for 14 goals.

“Our attack is looking so crisp,” Tommila said. “We’re not trying to play better or worse against any team in the league.” Bainbridge has won its league contests by an average of 16 points per game.

“The score doesn’t mean anything to me,” Tommila said. “We usually get to that score with about 10 minutes left in the game. While we’re playing, I don’t want cheesy, easy goals. I want them to have to work at what they’re doing. I don’t care about the score as much as analyzing what they’re doing and not doing.”

Having already faced Lakeside is a benefit to the team – especially the underclassmen.

“Where we want to give them time to progress, they have to start and play,” Tommila said. “Our biggest hurdle we’ll get over is Lakeside, who has seven seniors playing for them. I think that Lakeside looked really great and that will probably be the team we play in the state final – because I intend to be there, and I know these guys intend to be there.”

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