When the Woodinville 7/8s lacrosse team boarded a plane bound for California, there was little reason to expect success. After all, their opponents were all-star teams from various schools around the Bay Area. Woodinville was but a one school program. But after competing July 13-14 in the West Coast Showcase in Morgan Hill, Calif., Woodinville swept six games in the Under-15 Gold Division and won the championship.
"I don’t think anybody knew who we were," Woodinville coach Andy Farrington said. "Typically these types of tournaments are made up of all star teams, regionally. But you could tell from our name, `Woodinville,’ that we were from a town."
The way the Bay Area teams had it figured, this Woodinville squad venturing forth from the mossy backwaters of the Pacific Northwest should’ve been an easy mark.
Woodinville harbored similar doubts about themselves, traveling into the unknown.
"We went down there with low expectations," booster Gary Bamesberger said. "We were thinking, ‘man, this will be a tough tournament to win.’ I think people looked at us the same way."
But as the games got underway, the boys from Woodinville started turning heads. The Falcons knocked off the host team All West, then defeated Trilogy, which Farrington proclaimed his proudest moment.
"Boy that was a super athletic team," Farrington said. "It’s very rare that you beat a team that’s bigger, faster and stronger than yourself. That was exciting. That’s when I realized ‘wow, our teamwork is really a strength.’"
Woodinville went on to knock off three more teams in succession, and then squared off against Trilogy in a rematch for the championship.
"We felt we really had our hands full there," Bamesberger said. "They have some very good athletes. But we got going. Alex Blue stepped up and threw in some goals. Christian Orton shut down their big powerful attack man. He shut him down!
"And our goalie, Matt Corbin, that guy was lights out. Made some incredible saves. Some of those guys we played were shooting 80 MPH shots. In our five games we allowed only 17 goals. That was the best defense there."
Woodinville topped Trilogy 6-3 in the final, and the championship was won.
" It was a lot of fun because the people down there were like ‘Who’s Woodinville?’" Bamesberger said.
As it turned out, anonymity was non-existent on the return trip home.
"When you’re in the airport on the way home after you’ve won it’s a wonderful time," Bamesberger said. "The kids loved it, getting congratulated over the PA system. The flight attendant played We Are the Champions. Everyone was howling and laughing."
Added Farrington: "That was pretty fun. I think it was somebody’s dad who let somebody know that. That was good stuff."
The trip proved to be a crowning moment for the Woodinville squad. All but two of the players now will advance into the high school system and play for Woodinville.
"They realized that as a team they’re stronger than individuals," Bamesberger said. "They played some all-star teams with very great players. But as a team, Woodinville prevailed."