Peninsula’s Austin Erkers discusses Baggataway Bowl win over Gig Harbor
For the third consecutive season, the fire stick trophy is staying in Purdy. The Peninsula High School boys lacrosse team beat crosstown rival Gig Harbor High on May 3 in the Baggataway Bowl, 12-8, to earn the two-game season sweep over the Tides.
“It feels great, in my last one, senior year,” said Peninsula’s Austin Erkers, who scored three goals in the win. “It’s great to play Gig Harbor and win. I grew up playing with those guys. So just coming out, playing them and getting the win, it’s amazing.”
Like last year’s contest, it was a close game at half, and Peninsula coach Rusty Wilder challenged his team during the break, with the Seahawks holding a narrow 6-4 lead.
“I really encouraged them just to settle down, play their game, run our offense and be consistent, and just rely on each other,” Wilder said. “Lacrosse is a team sport, so get rid of trying to individually do stuff, and just work together collectively.”
Peninsula (10-1 overall) responded with its best play in the third quarter, outscoring Gig Harbor (10-4 overall) 4-2 in the period and jumping out to a 10-6 lead heading into the fourth.
“We went out there strong in the third quarter and just took advantage of it,” Erkers said. “(Wilder) just told us a couple corrections we needed to make.”
In the first meeting of the teams on April 5, the Seahawks beat the Tides, 16-4. But with Gig Harbor at full strength in this meeting and Peninsula missing starting goalie Carl Wiberg and starting defensive captain Graham Schmidt, Wilder knew his team would be in for a tougher challenge this time around.
“We had to scramble,” Wilder said. “I’m really proud, because they had to fight through this one. They had to earn it, fight for it and get after it. This one is a sweet one.”
The dagger came in the fourth quarter, when Erkers scored the game’s final goal with 2:38 remaining to give Peninsula a four-goal lead.
“I just felt at that moment, we had it,” Erkers said. “It just felt like that was the game.”
Gig Harbor made it interesting on several occasions throughout the game, coming within one score late in the second quarter and within two goals midway through the third quarter. But every time the Tides threatened, Peninsula responded with a goal.
“Having a great faceoff guy helps,” Wilder said. “Kaiya (Taylor) played with a lot of guts tonight. That allowed us to control the tempo. Just really staying with our game, win the faceoffs, get the ground balls, run our offense and take advantage of what they give us.”
And for another season, the coveted fire stick trophy is staying in Purdy.
“We take a lot of pride in winning this game,” Erkers said. “It means a lot to us.”
Could Peninsula make it four in a row next season?
“Rivalry games are hard, and it’ll be a great fight next year, so we’ll see,” Wilder said.