Woodinville lacrosse, at 12-0, carries the torch for its sport

  • Written by Don Mann
Woodinville senior co-captain and defenseman Jacob Dransfield, with pressure on his heels, moves the ball upfield. Photo by Don Mann.
Senior co-captain J.D. Chapman scored with 45 seconds remaining in the game to lift the Woodinville Lacrosse Club’s varsity team to a 9-8 win over Providence of Lynnwood on "Spirit Night" at WHS on Friday to remain undefeated at 12-0 overall. It was Chapman’s third goal of the game, having tied it up at 8-apiece with 3:17 remaining after Woodinville stormed back from an unusual 5-0 halftime deficit.

Woodinville’s biggest deficit all season had been two goals, head coach Gavin Molitor said.

"Our defense was overplaying, we had some early penalties and I think we were a little nervous playing in front of all those fans for the first time," he said. "But we hung in there and never gave up hope."

Additional fans were there to celebrate Spirit Night on the final regular season game of the year, a fundraising event featuring fun and games, raffles and concessions, in an effort to raise money to cover costs of the eight-team club in its second year of existence.

Woodinville Lacrosse split from the Northshore Lacrosse Club in 2009, and the programs serves second-graders through high school seniors — about 180 players in all, club president Andy Farrington said.

"We had a lot of interest and had the resources to start our own club," he said. "So far, so good and tonight’s a great night. It’s very rewarding to see the support and the enthusiasm."

Molitor, an English teacher at WHS, is an east coast transplant who brought a love of the game with him from Massachusetts, where he played high school ball, and Vermont, where he played college ball. Before grabbing the helm in the fledgling program, he sidelined as a lacrosse official.

He was asked about how Woodinville Lacrosse managed to come up with enough qualified coaches to mentor eight different age groups.

"We have a fair number of loving parents learning the game and wanting to be involved," he said. "We as a program meet a lot and talk about the game, and at least six of our coaches played competitively at some level."

The club’s varsity team has played at an exceptionally competitive level this season, and is now one win away from clinching the home field advantage for the upcoming Division II playoffs.

"It’s a matter of good dynamics," he said of his squad’s success. "These kids are really good friends and have formed a strong bond over the last two years. We started to form an identity last year, in which we struggled a little bit at times, and now they understand what it takes to be a winning team. They just genuinely love the game and they’re a tight-knit group."

The strength of the team, he said, starts with defense.

"They do a good job of controlling the other team and they get our offense the ball. They don’t allow a lot of goals so our offense can have patience, then strike when the opportunities are there."

He tipped his cap to senior captains Chapman, Jacob Dransfield and Tyler Paris.

"They’ve been playing together for a while and are all good leaders who set a good tone for the younger guys."

Chapman, senior Keaton House and freshman Daniel McKee are tied for the team lead with 25 goals apiece to highlight Woodinville’s balance. Senior Zachary Verbeck leads the team in picking up ground balls, a critical statistic that speaks of toughness and determination — and sets the transition game in motion. Junior goalie Dalton Combs has been outstanding in net, with a 3 goals per game average and a .649 save percentage.Yet its most talented player may be sophomore Colter Clinch, whose 4.67 points per game average leads the team, but has been sidelined the last four games with a foot stress fracture. He hopes to be back for the playoffs.

And Woodinville Lacrosse hopes to be sanctioned as an official high school sport sometime down the road, but is not holding its collective breath.

Two weeks ago the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association (WIAA), the state’s governing body of high school sports, rejected a proposal to include lacrosse under its jurisdiction.

"I’ve been following that for a couple years," Molitor said, "and I think it has a lot to do with Title IX, making sure males and females have equal sports offerings. I don’t know when but at some point the high school association will recognize that there are lots of kids playing the sport and they should have some governance over it. We’ve been pushing with principals and athletic directors to get them aware of the sport. If it’s adopted that would be great in terms of making sure kids are safe, have playing time and access to fields. But it could be difficult because we have regional teams. Snohomish, for example, pulls from a couple different schools and so does Sammamish.

I’m not sure how that would all shake out."

And neither is Farrington. "I’m not too concerned about that," he said. "If it happens, great. If not, great. We still have our club team. But I’ll say this: It should happen eventually, but it’s a tough time money-wise right now. It’s just gonna take some time, because it’s a growing sport and participation is not going to decrease."





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