After two consecutive third place finishes at the San Diego Open, the 2015 Wolverines were determined to write a different script. On Saturday night, Bellevue defeated Torrey Pines 4-3 in the semifinals and Uni City 11-6 in the finals to claim the tournament title. In doing so, the Wolverines became the first non-California squad to ever win the San Diego Open, which began in 1991.
Bellevue 12, Eastlake 2
For the first time in program history, Bellevue received the top overall seed out of 48 teams. This meant that Bellevue opened tournament play in the “elite” bracket, resulting in two Thursday games that would be used to determine seeding for Friday and Saturday’s top 16 bracket. Teams seeded 17-48 competed for one of eight spots in Friday and Saturday’s top 16 bracket.
In its first game of the tournament against Eastlake High School of Chula Vista, Bellevue got off to a torrid start, scoring on three of its first five possessions en route to a 7-0 halftime lead. Six Wolverines scored in the game, led by senior Mina Abdel Shahed’s six goals. Sophomore Ethan Wlaschin and senior Will Amsberry split time in the cage, combining for six saves in the dominant defensive effort. Senior co-captain Zack Rossman contributed four steals and junior co-captain Cameron Hayes added three assists.
Bellevue 6, Grossmont 8
For the third time in two years, Bellevue squared off against Grossmont High School in early bracket play. Last year, Bellevue won the opening round contest 10-9 before losing to Grossmont 13-9 in the semifinals. This year was another close contest. Grossmont, ranked #3 in San Diego’s preseason polls behind national powerhouse programs Catherdral Catholic and Bishops, proved to be a major challenge once again.
The squads traded first quarter goals to tie the game at 1-1 heading into the second quarter. In the second, Grossmont exploded for four straight goals after sophomore AJ Rossman was sent to the bench with two ejections. Down 5-2 at half, the Wolverines fought back in the second half but was unable to erase the early game deficit.
Junior Mario Abdel Shahed and his brother Mina led the offense with three goals each, while Hayes added one goal. Zack Rossman led the defense, racking up seven steals and contributing excellent defense against Grossmont’s dangerous center, senior Tony Murphy.
Bellevue 11, San Marcos 2
In its first game of the 16-team championship bracket, the Wolverines defeated San Marcos 11-2 on Friday afternoon behind a suffocating defense. Bellevue jumped out to a 4-0 first quarter lead and never looked back. Zack Rossman led the defense with six steals and paced the offense with three goals. Mario Abdel Shahed added five steals and three goals. Wlaschin and Amsberry split time in the cage and only had to make two blocks as Bellevue’s defense limited San Marcos to few shots on cage.
Bellevue 14, Fallbrook 10
In Saturday’s quarterfinal matchup, Bellevue squared off against last year’s tournament champion, Fallbrook High School. Once again, Bellevue jumped out to an early lead, finding itself up 6-2 at half. Early in the third quarter, Bellevue had extended the lead to 9-2 and began to substitute freely in preparation for an upcoming semifinal battle against Torrey Pines. While Fallbrook went on a small run to end the game, the outcome was never in doubt.
Zack Rossman led the offense with six goals. Mario Abdel Shahed, Mina Abdel Shahed, and junior Jesse Hainze chipped in two goals apiece. Sophomore Jack Witham added a team-high three assists.
Bellevue 4, Torrey Pines 3
With the win over Fallbrook, Bellevue earned a spot in the semifinals for the third straight year. Standing between the Wolverines and the finals was Torrey Pines, the #2 overall seed and the #3 ranked team in San Diego. Entering the game, Torrey Pines boasted an impressive 22-1 record, with its lone loss coming against Bishop’s, and featured a high-flying offense averaging 14 goals per game.
In a first half marked by numerous missed chances, Bellevue was unable to find the back of the cage and entered halftime down 2-0. It was the first time Bellevue failed to score in a half all season. In the third quarter, Mina Abdel Shahed scored two outside shots to even the game at 2-2 entering the fourth quarter. In the final frame, Zack Rossman took over, scoring two goals to propel the Wolverines to victory. Rossman’s first goal came on a quick shot after drawing a perimeter exclusion. Rossman’s second goal came on a beautiful outside shot from 8 meters. With the Wolverines up two, Torrey Pines tried frantically to even the game, but Wlaschin came up huge and turned back several shots. Torrey Pines scored with 0:05 seconds remaining in the game, but Bellevue was able to easily hold on for the win.
Wlaschin led the dominant defensive effort by posting five saves. Zack Rossman posted a game-high four steals, and brother AJ Rossman shut down Torrey Pines’ center position with excellent defense at two-meters.
Bellevue 11, Uni City 6
In the championship game, Bellevue faced Uni City in a rematch of last year’s quarterfinal game won by Bellevue 10-9.
Uni City struck on its first possession, scoring a rebound goal after an outside shot caromed off the cross-bar. But Hainze answered on the ensuing possession, scoring to even the game at 1-1. A few possessions later, AJ Rossman struck on an outside shot to put the Wolverines ahead for good, 2-1. Hainze soon struck again, scoring on a counter attack off a nice pass from AJ Rossman. Brother Zack Rossman then hit an outside shot to put the Wolverines ahead 4-1. Uni City answered with a goal from set to pull to within 4-2 to end the first.
In the second quarter, Bellevue continued its strong offensive performance. Cameron Hayes scored on a man-up to make it 5-2. After Uni City answered, Mina Abdel Shahed scored on a man-up to make it 6-3. Mario Abdel Shahed scored late in the quarter to make it 7-3.
In the third quarter, Mario Abdel Shahed struck again, scoring out of set to make it 8-3. Uni City hit an outside shot to make it 8-4, but Zack Rossman answered with an outside shot of his own to make it 9-4. Mario Abdel Shahed then added his third goal of the game to put the Wolverines up 10-4.
In the final quarter, Amsberry took over goalkeeping duties from Wlaschin. Hayes scored his second goal of the contest, but Uni City scored the final two of the game to make it 11-6.
Ethan Wlaschin led the defense by posting eight saves and two steals. Zack Rossman added seven steals. AJ Rossman posted a game-high two assists, while Hayes added four steals.
With the win, Bellevue (17-5) returns home for the Regional Tournament November 6-7 at Rogers High School.