Sports

Lake Tapps Lacrosse: Lake Tapps Lacrosse Club gaining popularity and respect Crossing into new territory

Steven Winters grabs some air and the ball from a Selah player during play this spring. - Photo by Jay Ditty/Skyshot Airphoto
Steven Winters grabs some air and the ball from a Selah player during play this spring.
— image credit: Photo by Jay Ditty/Skyshot Airphoto

Spurred by the passion of young Bolton Lancaster, Lake Tapps Lacrosse was born.

It was five years ago when Bolton, then an eighth-grade student who had played the sport while the family lived in Canada, begged his dad to start a team here. Dan Lancaster agreed to coach if Bolton could find enough kids. Bolton showed up with 23 athletes eager to learn the sport which combines the speed and power of hockey and football with the endurance, agility and strategy of soccer and basketball into a fast-paced game to play and watch.

“I fell in love with it in Canada,” coach Lancaster said of the passion he shares for the sport with his son.

Fifteen of the young men who turned out in 2005 are still with the program.

In late May, the Titans, Lake Tapps Lacrosse Club’s high school team, advanced to the second round of the Washington High School Boys Lacrosse Association playoffs and had three members named to the Division II all-Cascade Conference team – Emerson Folker, Jeremiah Davenport and Cory Carson. The club’s board president, Kevin Martin, in his first year at that position and his third with the organization, was named the league’s Man of the Year.

Lacrosse has its roots in Native American culture. A team sport, played using a small, solid, rubber ball and a long-handled racquet called a crosse or lacrosse stick. The head of the lacrosse stick is strung with loose netting designed to hold the ball. Play takes place on a surface roughly the size of a football field. Offensively, the object of the game is to use the lacrosse stick to catch, carry and pass the ball, eventually hurling it into an opponent’s goal. Defensively, the object is to keep the opposing team from scoring and take the ball away by checking and body contact or positioning.

According to Mike McQuaid, sports information director for the Washington State Chapter of US Lacrosse, lacrosse is the fastest-growing sport in the United States and in Washington state. The sport has seen double-digit growth in five of the last seven years. In 2009, more than 2,370 high school students representing 75 boys and 49 girls varsity and junior varsity teams in Washington state competed in the nine-week season that began in March and finished up in May. Thirty percent of the teams are high school varsity sports, the remaining percentage are Associated Student Body club sports and independent clubs like Lake Tapps.

“The growth numbers are amazing, and it’s not out of aggressive marketing for the sport. Kids play the sport and love it,” said McQuaid, who noted the sports fan base is growing as well with stadiums boosting full stands.

The Titans finished the regular season second in the Cascade Conference behind Eastside Catholic. The WHSBLA has 14 teams in the elite Division I and 28 teams that make up the advanced-level Division II. Lake Tapps competes in Division II, which is divided into four seven-team conferences. Each year, based on their play or performance teams are invited to move up from Division II to Division I. Teams also are often invited to move into Division II.

Lancaster formed the Lake Tapps club with support from the Tacoma Youth Lacrosse Association. By 2008, Lake Tapps’ program had grown to more than 100 athletes, starting from third-grade age to high school, on five teams.

This year, the group ventured away from TYLA and created the Lake Tapps Lacrosse Club, which includes athletes from Auburn, Enumclaw, Buckley, Bonney Lake and Sumner. Now 150 kids strong, the Lake Tapps Lacrosse Club sports a third- and fourth-grade team, two fifth- and sixth-grade teams, two seventh- and eighth-grade teams, a junior varsity team, the Bulldogs, and a varsity squad, the Titans. There are five girls that play with the club, and Lancaster is hoping, in the near future, to expand the program to include a female program.

Like soccer, but with less barriers, Lancaster said most kids who come to the sport have had little or no exposure to it.

“Lacrosse isn’t an exclusive sport, anybody who wants to can play,” said Lancaster, who is assisted by Dave Folker. Jeff Nyland leads the junior varsity squad. “There’s something about the sport that really draws kids together.”

It could be the value he and other coaches place on passion and effort, as well as commitment, dedication, integrity and respect.

The Titans drew on all those attributes and more during their playoff run.

Against Snohomish in the opening round of the playoffs, David Snyder scored the go-ahead goal with 17 seconds remaining in the contest. The Panthers won the face off and with lightening-quick speed pushed the ball toward the cage and answered with less than five seconds left, sending the game into overtime.

With 2:11 remaining in sudden death, the Titans’ Carson capitalized on a fast break to score the winning goal for a 10-9 victory.

The Titans would not have the same outcome in the second round, as King’s Way, the Olympic Conference champion, would have their way, beating the Titans at Columbia River High School May 22 in a high-scoring 13-10 contest. The Titans were led by Skyler Cichy’s five goals. Justin Abts, Andy Russell, Davenport, Lancaster and Snyder also each scored a goal.

Overlake, the Evergreen Conference leader, would eventually win the Division II championship. Issaquah captured the Division I title.

Carson, a senior from Lake Tapps who attends Auburn Riverside High School, earned his all-Cascade Conference honors at attack. Carson also led the team during the regular season with 32 goals.

Right behind him in scoring was Cichy, who can drill a ball toward the goal at 94 mph, with 28 goals.

Folker, a senior from Bonney Lake High School, picked up his all-conference accolades for his defensive play. Davenport, who’s a Lake Tapps senior from Auburn Riverside, was named all-conference at midfield.

Zack Nard and Nick Chapman split time in goal for the Titans. Nard led the team during the regular season in saves with 86, while Champman had 41.

Lancaster graduates 19 from this team, but, with a roster 30 deep and a full junior varsity squad, there’s an eager and talented crew waiting in the wings.

Practice, which takes place on fields in Auburn, Bonney Lake and Buckley, doesn’t begin again until March.

For information on the Titans, the Bulldogs and the Lake Tapps Lacrosse Club visit the Web site at www.laketappslax.org.

To comment on this story view it online at www.courierherald.com or wwwblscourierherald.com. Reach Brenda Sexton at bsexton@courierherald.com or 360-802-8206.

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