Boys' Lacrosse: Northwest Invitational Preview

On Friday, one of the West Coast's top annual events gets underway as Mercer Island High School hosts the Sixth Annual Northwest Invitational just outside of Seattle.

A total of 14 teams are set to participate in this year's tournament, including top boys' lacrosse programs from Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Nevada, and British Columbia, Canada. The action which continues through Sunday features an entire slate of teams coming off state or provincial playoff appearances in 2010, including four state championship squads.

Current Mercer Island head coach Ian O'Hearn was an integral figure in getting the event established. O'Hearn believed the establishment of an invitational would play a key role in promoting inter-regional play and also draw teams from outside of the region to participate in a showcase of elite lacrosse. So far, the tournament has already grown from five to 14 teams in just six years, making it one of the top high school tournaments in the west.

"The invitational has grown every year, and now we're up to 14 teams," said O'Hearn, now in his tenth season as the head coach at Mercer Island. "While it's a great cultural experience for a number of teams to come out here, it's also about the competition. A lot of western teams now realize how important it is to travel to other parts of the country in order to face some of the nation's toughest opponents."

In this year's showcase, featured participants include host school Mercer Island and fellow Washington rivals Bellevue, Bainbridge Island, Skyline and Issaquah, plus Oregon elites Lincoln, Sunset, Lakeridge and Oregon Episcopal. Meanwhile, defending Idaho state champion Timberline and Nevada state champ Centennial are also slated to participate.

"We like to match up teams to get some diversity among the competition and ensure quality lacrosse," said O'Hearn, whose led Mercer Island to the state title game in 9 of the last 10 seasons. "It's really fun to watch these teams interact, too. They all have a connection of lacrosse, but they're all different people. Plus, the styles of play are often different as well."

In Friday action, arguably the top match-up of the day features Issaquah taking on Oregon Episcopal. Issaquah is already making its claim as a title contender in '11 after storming out to a 4-0 record in the early going. The Eagles who captured the '09 Washington Division I championship are one of the state's most balanced teams this year and will look to preseason All-American midfielder Kevin Powers for production against a talented Oregon Episcopal squad. The Aardvarks lead with a stout defense behind Mikhiel Tareen, and will look to minimize the Eagles' offensive production.

1 2    Next  »


Create a free lacrosse website