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Mercer Island returns to the pitch | Prep soccer preview
The varsity soccer players returning to the field this fall for Mercer Island have seen pretty much everything. The 10 returners have seen the highs and lows — from the state championship to not making the playoffs last season. But the Islanders are ready for this season on the pitch, ready to weather whatever this season brings.
“It’s going really good,” said returning head coach Nicole Nelson. “We have a nice group of girls out here who are really excited to be a team together.”
Working as a team will be a season-long theme for the Islanders, promoted by the three captains, Celina Solomon, Bella Stribling, and Corey Goelz.
“We want to see team unity,” said Stribling, as one of the captains’ goals for the season.
“Everyone likes to see how we’re developing,” said Solomon of the program as a whole. “We have 70 girls this year and added a fourth team. I think we have a good future ahead.”
With a large crop of returning players, Nelson said one thing definitely won’t be changing — the team’s speed.
“I would say our quickness of play and speed, but that shouldn’t be any surprise to our opponents,” said Nelson of the team’s strengths. “Our goal keeping is really strong.”
Going back to the season’s theme, Nelson said she would like to see the team play together all season long as a key to success.
“Playing as a team through whatever the season brings,” said the coach. “Whether it’s success or adversary, and sticking to our game plan. I would say last year some girls were disappointed with how the season went, so the expectation is that we change the culture at practice, change the culture here so they have the outcome they desire.”
Goelz, the goalkeeper for the team, said she feels like the team has a strong balance of returning and new players this fall.
“I would say one of the things I would like to see them accomplish is that they meet their individual goals and that they come away from the season with a positive experience, which would lead to more wins and a better outcome for the season,” said Nelson.
The team started off the season with a rehashing of last year’s start, against Seattle Prep in a non-conference game on Tuesday, Sept. 6. Prep won the 3A state title last fall and dominated the Islanders during the game in 2010.
“We want to show them how much different we are than last year’s team,” said Stribling.
The Islanders will play their first conference match against Lake Washington at home on Sept. 13 with a 7:30 p.m. start time. They then travel to Juanita on Sept. 15 before playing their first home game against Bellevue on Sept. 22.