Sacred Heart Prep’s boys’ lacrosse team has consistently proven to be one of the powerhouse programs in the nation in recent years.
The 2019 team made sure to maintain that reputation by being ranked No. 1 in the nation at one point this past season, with senior Tommy Barnds at the center of their success, earning him the Daily Journal’s Boys’ Lacrosse Player of the Year honor. It’s the second year in a row Barnds has won the award and third straight year a Gators’ players has earned the honor.
“Tommy’s work ethic and competitiveness separates him from the rest of the pack. He is the first guy on the field every day, and when we needed a play, Tommy would rise to the occasion,” SHP head coach Chris Rotelli said.
Barnds was a team co-captain and was elected team MVP. He finished the season with 77 goals and 50 assists and was first-team, all-West Catholic Athletic League.
“Most of the goals I scored were one’s that I’ve executed on the practice field over and over again. Practice instills confidence and all of that repetition translated into results on game days,” Barnds said.
The Gators opened up the season with a dominating 14-game winning streak, beating a slew of strong lacrosse programs from around the state, including rival Menlo School, San Ramon Valley, San Diego standout The Bishop’s School and Marin Catholic. outscoring their opponents 199-81 during that stretch.
“Our offense really worked well as a team this season and our success was just a product of our team chemistry,” Barnds said.
The hot start built a great amount of momentum, but the Gators suffered their first loss more than a month into the season when they dropped a pair on a road trip to Maryland — 13-3 to Gonzaga-Washington D.C. and 8-7 to St. Paul’s-Brooklandville. They returned to California and picked up another pair of non-league wins.
As the regular season approached its conclusion, the WCAL league title would once again come down to Sacred Heart Prep and St. Ignatius. The two have battled for the top spot in the league standings over the last several years. The Wildcats have been one of the top programs in the nation for years and they beat Sacred Heart Prep in their only regular-season meeting to clinch the WCAL title.
“If something goes wrong or something doesn’t go our way, there is no use in dwelling on it. We move forward and that message has allowed us to improve every year that I’ve been here and our record reflects that,” Brandt said.
In the WCAL tournament opener, Sacred Heart Prep blew out Sacred Heart Cathedral, 20-7. The Gators followed that performance by taking care of business in the semifinals with an 18-10 win against Bellarmine.
“As soon as I step out onto the field with my team, I know we’re going to play our hardest. We’ve never needed external motivation. Win or lose, we’ve always laid it all out on the field,” Barnds said.
The Gators had an opportunity for revenge when they faced off against St. Ignatius in the championship, but they unfortunately came up just short once again, losing 8-6 in a closely contested battle.
Although Sacred Heart Prep may not have gotten the end result to the season that they wanted, it still finished ranked No. 2 in Northern California and No. 4 in the Western United States.
Now that it’s all said and done, Barnds is moving on to attend the University of Princeton where he’ll have the opportunity to play for one of the top lacrosse programs in the country. Barnds looks forward to, “experiencing new adventures because you never know what to expect exactly, but it’ll be fun to take on a new challenge.”