For all intents and purposes, it appeared Gig Harbor would win the Baggataway Bowl, the inaugural boys lacrosse game between the Tides and Peninsula Seahawks.
Gig Harbor was in control as it led 7-4 going into the fourth quarter. But the Seahawks knew they couldn’t be counted out.
Peninsula’s Cory Marchand delivered the game-winning goal in a sudden-death overtime period to lift the Seahawks to an 8-7 victory.
“During practice, we focus on the end of our practice being the running part of our game,” Peninsula head coach Tracy Lyon said. “We keep up on our endurance. When we went into the fourth quarter, I told them, ‘We’ve got 10 minutes to put together three goals. I want it tied by the end of the game.’ ”
The players obliged.
Consecutive goals by Dawson Meerdink, Marchand and Cameron Lewis pushed the game into overtime, and Peninsula gained a man advantage in overtime when Gig Harbor drew an offsides penalty.
Marchand took advantage and fired in the deciding goal.
“I saw that their defender was a little off the goal and extended,” Marchand said. “I knew if I threw a fake to the right side, it would kind of pause him up and just take it under the goal. I put it between the goalie’s legs.”
Gig Harbor head coach Marc Kemp said the team needs to improve its fundamentals.
“I’d say, pretty much the whole game, we had a lot of hustle but pretty poor fundamentals,” Kemp said. “We couldn’t catch the ball, we were making bad passes, we were throwing the ball into their sticks. We weren’t really running our offense. So, nothing really miraculous there. We just didn’t play well enough to beat them.”
With the exception of the fourth quarter, Gig Harbor goalie Ashton Sidebottom was brilliant in the net, fending off several Peninsula scoring chances.
“Ashton’s a wall,” Kemp said. “He’s been a conference-leading goalie. I thought he played a great game. He took a lot of shots. We were on defense a long time. I thought he played great.
“Our weakness back there is on the clear and getting the ball back upfield so we can have it on offense,” Kemp said. “We know that, he knows that, we’re working on it. I love him. He plays tough.”
The big winner was high school lacrosse. The sport, which slowly has been expanding, has been in the Gig Harbor area for several years as the Harbor Fire Lacrosse Association. This year, the club team split into the two high schools.
While it isn’t yet recognized by the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association, the Baggataway Bowl drew a large and enthusiastic crowd, making a strong case for the sport going forward.
“The fact that we can get the momentum going here in the Gig Harbor area, to get this into the schools and have the schools recognize it as a team sport,” Lyon said. “We saw how many kids were out here, not just our own kids, but the younger groups, coming up, wanting to be high school players.
“It’s a phenomenal movement,” he said. “It’s going to rival football or basketball around here. You can see by the public that it’s going to.”
Having a crowd was a new experience for the lacrosse players, who don’t often play to a lot of fanfare.
“It was awesome, especially having a lot of friends and fans supporting us and hearing our names chanted, and just chanting the whole team,” Marchand said. “It felt great.”
While Kemp would have liked to win, he said he was thrilled with the community support.
“It was great,” he said. “I appreciate the community coming out. We did, consciously, try to make this a big deal with the trophy and naming the event and all of that. Would’ve loved to have won the game, but, from a spectator’s perspective, this is awesome.
“Sudden death overtime, it was great,” Kemp added. “There was a fair amount of cheering and stuff going on in the crowd, so that was great to have. I appreciate everyone’s support.”Sports reporter Jon Manley can be reached at 253-358-4151 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter, @gateway_jon.