After watching his team’s lead slip away a bit in the first half of the fourth-annual Baggataway Bowl against crosstown rival Gig Harbor on Friday night at Roy Anderson Field, Peninsula boys lacrosse coach Courtney Mauzy wasn’t overly concerned.
The Seahawks still had a four-goal lead heading into the break, after boasting a five-goal lead at one point in the second quarter.
And with eight seniors on the field for Peninsula, Mauzy knew his team had it in them to break away in the second half and secure the win.
“I’d like to think it was just getting the jitters out,” Mauzy said. “(Gig Harbor) had their run in the second quarter, and that was a bit irritating. But there was never a doubt in my mind, really.”
Mauzy challenged his team at halftime, and the veteran-heavy Peninsula squad responded in a big way. Peninsula outscored Gig Harbor in the second half, shutting down the Tides’ offense and wearing a younger Gig Harbor side down.
Peninsula won, 17-9 to reclaim the coveted Fire Stick trophy and get back into the win column of the rivalry, which now stands at two wins apiece for the schools. Gig Harbor had won the last two meetings.
“We just kept playing with energy, counting on our family,” said Peninsula senior attacker Jackson Reid, who finished with five goals. “We’ve got ten seniors total on the team this year. We just had to come together as a team.”
Peninsula looked poised for a somewhat comfortable win, but Gig Harbor started winning face-offs in the second quarter and scored four unanswered goals on fast breaks to bring the game within a goal.
“That’s what happens in lacrosse,” said Peninsula senior attacker Cameron Lewis, who finished with three goals for the Seahawks. “Games can turn really fast. We really took that upon ourselves, as a senior class, we weren’t going to let this one slip through our fingers. We buckled down, we were getting in guys’ faces. You have to do it. You have to get aggressive and get into it.”
For Mauzy, it ultimately came down to toughness and attitude, not tactics.
“It was just that maturity and desire,” Mauzy said. “They hadn’t won in two years. They just wanted it. I’d love to tell you we switched defenses, or I had some great coaching philosophy. But really, I was just trying to get them motivated. We seem to have a funk with Gig Harbor. But we pulled through.”
Perhaps the biggest surprise of the game was the emergence of Peninsula freshman Trent Akulschin, who scored a co-high five goals for the Seahawks. Akulschin was starting in place of an injured teammate.
“I can’t talk about (Akulschin) enough,” Lewis said. “He played a great game. Our attackers are very aggressive.”
Mauzy said Akulschin stepped up in a big way for Peninsula.
“I was happy, we knew he had it in him,” Mauzy said. “He just needed the confidence. He played to his potential and didn’t show any fear. That’s hard for a freshman. But his ability and his finishing was not a surprise.”
For Peninsula, winning back the Fire Stick was a reason to celebrate.
“I was pretty upset we lost last year,” Reid said. “But we grinded all off-season and it was well worth it. We owe it to the coaches; they get us prepared every single week.”
Tyler Nichols added two goals for Peninsula, while Joey Lewis and Braedon Potter each chipped in a goal apiece.
Gig Harbor’s Miles Snook, Max Jorgenson and Jacob Bertram each netted two goals for the Tides. John Law, Jackson Bratrud and Danny Sawyer all added one goal of their own.
The game featured a large crowd and even some halftime entertainment, with younger community lacrosse players playing in a mini-game at halftime.
“It feels good to play in front of this crowd,” Reid said. “It’s fun to see the fans come out and have the school’s support.”