Eleanor King hustles for a ground ball during the Spartans’ game against Jesuit at Bainbridge High’s Memorial Stadium. (Brian Kelly | Bainbridge Island Review)

Eleanor King hustles for a ground ball during the Spartans’ game against Jesuit at Bainbridge High’s Memorial Stadium. (Brian Kelly | Bainbridge Island Review)

Spartans top another powerhouse program in girls lacrosse

Oregon might be getting the message now.

The Bainbridge Spartans are out of your league, and then some.

For the second year in a row, the Spartan varsity girls lacrosse team has beaten one of Oregon’s best high school lacrosse teams.

This time, it was Jesuit School that came up short against Big Blue. Bainbridge bested the Crusaders 8-7 in a home, non-league matchup Saturday at Bainbridge High’s Memorial Stadium.

Last year, the Crusaders finished second, losing the Oregon state championship to the Lake Oswego Lakers. The Spartans, island lacrosse fans well remember, beat the powerhouse Lakers on the road last year just before the start of the 2018 playoffs.

“We knew that this team would be good,” Bainbridge Coach Tami Tommila said of the Crusaders.

“They have been in the state championship the last couple of years. They’ve got a kid [Taylor Anders] committed to Vanderbilt, so it’s always interesting going against a program where they’ve have some kids who have reached a higher level already,” Tommila noted.

The timing of the game was another challenge, as Bainbridge nears the end of the season and a short-stacked series of games.

“It’s an unfortunate situation to play these out-of-state games when we’re in the meat-and-potatoes of our season right now,” Tommila said. “We have to turn around and play Lake Samm on Monday and then Roosevelt on Tuesday, so there’s not a lot of downtime. And I think our legs from last week’s pretty intense games — it’s a lot of effort that a lot of our players have had to put in.”

That stretch of opponents, of course, included battles against Bellevue and Lakeside.

That said, Tommila said she was grateful for the matchup against the visiting Crusaders.

“I’m glad that we got to play them because the run through the playoffs will be intense as well, and they’re a physical team just like Lake Oswego was, so it was good for us to play that kind of game.”

The matchup was a back-and-forth affair in the first half, with multiple ties and lead changes, before the Spartans settled in the second half and maintained their slim lead until the end.

Spartan scoring leader Kendall Havill again paced the Bainbridge offense. Havill finished with four goals, and also contributed an assist, six draws, one caused turnover and two ground balls.

Eleanor Collins added two goals for the Spartans, and Lauren Pujolar and Madeleine Sherry finished with one goal each.

Thuy Lan Ortiz picked up another win in goal, and made nine saves on the Crusaders’ 16 shots on goal. She also had an assist.

The game was a bit frantic and scrappy at times, but the Spartans kept their composure.

“I thought the calls were there,” Tommila noted.

“But it doesn’t matter if the calls were there; you’re still getting hit and stuff,” she added. “So you have to mentally and physically adjust to that. And so I think it’s really good practice for us to go through those moments.

“I’m glad we got to play the game and I’m glad that nobody got hurt. And I’m also glad that we beat an Oregon team; that’s good,” the coach said.

This year, the Spartans won’t enter the postseason undefeated, given the early season loss to Mercer Island.

Likewise, Bainbridge hasn’t amassed a collection of lopsided wins against their opponents this year, either, a big turnaround from the 2018 campaign.

“There’s a lot of parity in the league this year, which is really great for our league,” Tommila said. “And so every team has their strategy in terms of what they’re trying to do to get wins.

“We’re not going to blow anybody out of the water this year. But we definitely can hang with any team,” she added.

Bainbridge enters the postseason as the defending state champions, but not as the favorite. That goes to No. 1 Mercer Island, with its status as this year’s undefeated team.

But Tommila likes the Spartans’ chances to repeat, even if that means a rematch for the title against MI.

“It’s going to come down to our preparation and obviously, we want to get to that state game and win it again.

“And we will. I believe we will,” she said.

“It’s always great when you get to play a team again in the playoffs,” she added. “And we have no idea who we’re going to face. And sort of our mindset after we lost to Mercer was, wow, Mercer was such a great opportunity to learn; this is where we’re at.”

That game wasn’t a wake-up call, Tommila said, but a chance to see what was working for the Spartans onfield and what wasn’t.

“You can go through the season with this false sense of, you know, we’re good,” Tommila explained, only to find out late where the deal-breaking deficits are.

“We just have to consistently play our game and go with what our strengths are,” the coach said. “And stay positive. I think were doing that.”

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