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Bellevue senior getting his shot in goal for two-time defending lacrosse champs | Prep sports feature
For the past three seasons, Cole Cansler has watched, and waited.
He has been witness to multiple state titles, All-American teammates and a host of Division I caliber Wolverines.
But while he was observing the nuances of a varsity program that owns the past two state championships, Cansler was also getting plenty of his own seasoning, even while on the C-Team and junior varsity.
"I tried to take every game seriously, and put in all my effort," he said. "No matter what team I'm playing for or what team we're playing against."
Now a senior, the rangy left-hander is getting an opportunity to put that intel to work, and is making the most of the opportunity as the varsity starter in goal.
"Cole is a great story of a kid just working hard all throughout his high school career," head coach John Baumann said. "He was a good teammate as a backup and now, with all the work he put in, it is paying off."
The Wolverines' primary net minder has allowed only 36 goals on the year, while posting 55 saves in 11 games. The propensity for lopsided scores, especially against in-state foes, has meant plenty of time for fellow senior Bradley Medeiros as well. He has responded with 30 saves on the season, some of those also coming in critical moments.
Baumann said the selfless nature of his senior keeper has not waned even as he has become the starter.
"He's the first guy out there to congratulate Brad on a big stop," Baumann said. "He definitely brings a calmness."
Fellow senior and captain Eric Haehl said the dedication of Cansler has paid dividends already on the season, and provided perspective for the rest of the team.
"He has put in the work in the offseason, and it has been great to see him grow," Haehl said of Cansler. "He's saved us in a couple of games and really stepped up big. He has really risen above."
Bellevue has surrendered just more than three goals per game against in-state foes, and Issaquah head coach Brandon Fortier said he expects his team's attack to be tested against the stingy Wolverines.
"They are very strong defensively," he said.
Bellevue's defensive unit will be tested by a group of Eagles featuring a balanced offensive attack, with 10 players having scored a goal and six with double-digit points on the season.
Baumann said he expects the same brand of quality lacrosse from Issaquah, and for his team to match the energy in a possible playoff preview.
"It's always a great game," he said. "Issaquah is well coached, they play a quality brand of lacrosse and are fundamentally sound."
Haehl, who is part of a senior class that has not dropped a game to a Washington foe for more than two calendar years, said his expectations are nothing short of another title.
"We put in the work and try to get better every day," he said. "We're going to hit the playoffs on a roll, and win another state championship. I'm not going to finish my senior year disappointed."