April 5, 2013

East meets West in lacrosse

A powerful team from Mercer Island, Wash., uses spring break to travel, and beats Scarborough.

By Paul Betit pbetit@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

When most students hear the words "spring break," places like Fort Lauderdale, Padre Island or Cancun come to mind. But those two words have a different meaning for the boys' lacrosse team from Mercer Island, Wash.

click image to enlarge

Scarborough goalie David Pearson keeps his eye on a shot Thursday during a lacrosse scrimmage against Mercer Island, Wash. Mercer Island has traveled on spring break for 11 of the past 12 years in search of quality competition.

Carl D. Walsh/Staff Photographer

For the Islanders, "spring break" means a trip east to play top-flight competition.

"We're not looking for vacations," Coach Ian O'Hearn said. "We're looking for good games, and the Northeast is where all the good teams are, so we come out here to get better competition."

The Islanders, a perennial powerhouse in their home state, visited Scarborough on Thursday night and rolled to a 15-2 victory against the Red Storm, the three-time defending Class A state champions.

"We were so happy when they called and gave us the opportunity to play a team of their caliber," Scarborough Coach Joe Hezlep said. "The score got a little lopsided, but the competition stayed competitive the whole time."

Play wasn't as one-sided as the score indicated.

"They're in the 10th game of their 20-game schedule (with two losses), so they've been at it a while," Hezlep said. "They had a few guys who made some plays and we had a hard time reacting."

Despite the score, both teams got something out of the game.

"They put up some good competition," said Cooper Johnson, who scored three goals for Mercer Island. "We try every game to get better, and this was a team that helped us to get better, so that's something we really appreciate."

"They had a zone (defense), which we've never really prepared for, but it's good to face it early in the season," said John Wheeler, a Scarborough attackman. "It definitely put us back a little bit but we're ready to move forward, and I think we'll be able to do that."

The Islanders used that zone defense for the first time on this trip.

"We've been testing it out on the East Coast," Johnson said. "In these games there's no league standings so we can take a few risks. The zone is something we're trying out and it seems to be working."

The Islanders played their first game of their trip on Tuesday night when Duxbury, Mass., scored five second-half goals to pull out an 8-4 victory.

They will end their trip Friday night back in Massachusetts against Concord-Carlisle.

The Islanders have traveled for games during their spring break in 11 of the last 12 seasons.

"We've had good years, we've had bad years," said O'Hearn, who grew up in Albany, N.Y.

"Last year we went to Suffolk County (on Long Island), played some very good teams and didn't do that well. In years past we've done very well."

Previously, the team has traveled to North Carolina, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and New York.

Staff Writer Paul Betit can be contacted at 791-6424 or at:


Twitter: PaulBetitPPH


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