Gateway: Sports

Peninsula coach Wilder challenged team at half of Baggataway Bowl. His players responded, delivering 13-7 win over Gig Harbor

Peninsula's Dirk Mishko leans back for a shot in the 2018 Baggataway Bowl at Roy Anderson Field on Wednesday, May 2.
Peninsula's Dirk Mishko leans back for a shot in the 2018 Baggataway Bowl at Roy Anderson Field on Wednesday, May 2. jmanley@gateline.com

The first time the Peninsula lacrosse team played crosstown rival Gig Harbor this season, the Tides scored a flurry of goals in the third quarter to take the lead, at one point in the game, despite eventually losing to the Seahawks.

Not this time.

Up 6-3 at half in the Baggataway Bowl at Roy Anderson Field on Wednesday night, Peninsula came out with fire, outscoring Gig Harbor 5-0 in the third quarter to take an 11-3 lead heading into the final period, completely deflating Gig Harbor’s hopes of a second half comeback and eventually sealing a dominant 13-7 victory.

“(The third quarter) was probably the most important quarter,” said Peninsula senior Dirk Mishko, who had three goals for the Seahawks, including two in the first quarter. “We didn’t allow them to come back this time. We had that mentality of stepping on their throats. We weren’t going to let them back into this. We were just animals. It was a dog den out there.”

Peninsula coach Rusty Wilder challenged his team at halftime, knowing that rival Gig Harbor was plenty capable of producing a comeback if the Seahawks’ players rested on their laurels.

“I said, ‘Talk is cheap. You either show it or you don’t. The beat you last third quarter. What are you going to do?’” Wilder said. “They rallied back. They wanted to make a statement and make up for that last time around.”

The onslaught of third quarter goals — scored by Mishko, Trent Akulschin, Simon Hartshorn, William Leahy and Chris Akulschin — took the wind out of Gig Harbor’s sails and demonstrated the balance of Peninsula’s attack. For the Seahawks, there were plenty of scoring threats on the field.

“It’s important that we have people who can score, but it’s even more important with the chemistry we have on the team,” Hartshorn said. “Just winning face offs and getting ground balls, keeping the ball and not having any turnovers. We focused on scoring and getting the ball back.”

And the Seahawks did get the ball back, seemingly whenever they wanted to. Gig Harbor struggled controlling possession.

“We turned the ball over way too many times,” said Gig Harbor coach Marc Kemp. “And it’s simple fundamentals. Our guys are better than that. We made bad passes, couldn’t catch, had the ball in our sticks and dropped it. It was definitely a full team sort of meltdown and Peninsula played solid. Peninsula executed well throughout the entire game."

For Gig Harbor, Jake Bertram had three goals, all in the fourth quarter. Jackson Bratrud was the Tides' best scoring threat throughout the game, netting two goals for Gig Harbor. Brad Johnson and Miles Snook added a goal apiece. For Peninsula, the scoring was well balanced and plentiful. Simon Hartshorn led the way with four goals, Mishko had three, Trent Akulschin and Chris Akulschin added two goals apiece and William Leahy tallied a goal.

For Mishko, getting a Baggataway Bowl win in his senior season is something he won’t soon forget.

“It’s the best one yet,” he said. “To go out on top as a senior is so great. To go out with this group of guys — they’re young, they’re hungry. We might have rough practices, but, oh my God, we show up on game day. It’s so fun. We’ve got great coaches, great teammates. We work together. We might struggle once in a while but we push through it and keep getting better and better. Getting wins like that proves it.”

Peninsula take’s the league’s No. 1 seed into the playoffs, while Gig Harbor takes the second seed.

Jon Manley: 253-358-4151, @gateway_jon
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