The Gig Harbor High lacrosse team is 7-0. Turns out, having 18 seniors on the roster is a good thing.
“Everyone rallies and plays good team defense,” Gig Harbor coach Marc Kemp said.
The undefeated record earned the Tides a ranking in one top-10 poll last week, marking the first time Gig Harbor has ever been ranked in the top 10, although lacrosse is not a WIAA-recognized sport. But Kemp isn’t taking the ranking too seriously.
“That ranking was generous,” Kemp said. “There was another ranking that came out the same week that was more realistic. Those teams over on the east side are so good. When you start looking at Mercer Island, Bellevue and Bainbridge, Issaquah, Eastside Catholic — there’s more than ten teams over there that are substantially better than we are.”
But to even be considered was a nice honor, Kemp admitted.
“It was awesome,” Kemp said. “I’m proud of where we’re at, but we’ve got to keep it real, too.”
The Tides have a strong, experienced core of seniors and upperclassmen, including midfielder Elliot Hunter, who has been all over the place for the Tides — literally.
“The modern game, they’ve been splitting things up to where some guys are offensive middies and some guys are defensive middies, but Elliot goes both ways,” Kemp said. “He’s really important on our team. He’s sort of your classic, throwback midfielder. He faces off for us and does great at that, he plays really good offense but he also plays really good defense.”
Playing all over the field, all game, can be tiring.
“There’s situations where I don’t get to come off the field,” Hunter said. “But you kind of get used to it after you’re halfway through the season.”
At practice Monday night, Hunter’s teammates called him some names. While they were anything but original or clever — “Smelliot,” for one —it showed how close the players are.
“It’s really close,” Hunter said. “I know they always have my back.”
Along with Hunter, the Tides are also led by captains Nick Guardia, Alex Bouterse and Nelson Snook. Sophomore goalie Ben Brownfield is one of the few underclassmen who see playing time. So far, it’s been a dream season for the Tides.
“This season has been great,” Hunter said. “We went into a few of the games not exactly sure what the outcome was going to be, and it ended up being better than we expected. Our game against Curtis — that was a really tough game. We’ve never beat them before. These guys played well. As long as keep doing things like we can do, we shouldn’t have any problem going undefeated for the rest of the games.”
The most daunting challenge will be trying to win an opening-round playoff game, which Gig Harbor has never done. Last year, Issaquah beat Gig Harbor in the first round, 13-3. Being the first Tides team to win a playoff game would be special, Hunter said.
“That’d be unreal for us,” Hunter said. “We usually get wiped out. To be the first team would be incredible.”
Kemp concurred with Hunter’s thoughts.
“We’ve made the first round of the playoffs every year we’ve been a team,” Kemp said. “But then we get slaughtered in the first round. That would be one thing that would be a success for our team, getting through the first round of the playoffs. But if we can beat Bellarmine again and Peninsula in the Baggataway Bowl, that’s a victory for our seniors. But I know they’d like to be the first team to win a playoff game.”