MI water polo off to 2-0 league start

The Islanders started the season with two wins over league contenders Newport and Roosevelt.

“For their first time playing together, the boys did well,” head coach Ryan Hall said. Hall was able to quickly take the reins of the team this year as the new “old” coach of Mercer Island. He previously coached the Islanders to a state championship in 2010 and has returned for the 2013 season.

The Islanders were eager for the home opener against Newport High. The eight returning varsity Islanders remember the Knights as the spoilers who edged them out of a third-place finish at state last year. Although Newport won the opening sprint, the ball was quickly stolen by Anthony Pedreira, enabling a Chris Apodaca goal with an assist by Jack Larkin.

The Islanders continued to fire away, mounting a 5-1 lead in the first quarter. The Knights were able to keep pace in the second quarter as each team put up four goals.

However, the Maroon squad outscored Newport, 7-2, in the second half. Eight Islander players contributed to the total goal count to post a final winning score of 16-7. Leading scorers of the night were Larkin with five and Austin Ralph with three.

The Islanders traveled away for the second game of the season for their contest against a strong Roosevelt Team. The Roughriders started aggressively and scored quickly off of a steal. The Islanders tied the game at 1-1 on a man-up play. Jack Larkin assisted in a Chris Merritt goal with 28 seconds left in the first quarter to put the Islanders up 3-2.

Two successive steals by Trevor Gullstad in the last minute of the half set up two goals by Gullstad off assists by Larkin to put the Islanders up 8-5. Roosevelt made adjustments in the third quarter, creating several ball-under turnovers. More shot attempts from turnovers allowed Roosevelt to outscore the Islanders, 5-3, in the third.

Early in the fourth quarter, the Roughriders had it tied at 11-11. Roosevelt played tough defense as they continually crashed into the set and were able to hold the tie until late in the fourth. The momentum shifted after a key field block by Topher Lacrampe at 1:35, which seemed to fire up the Islanders. Larkin scored a goal off of a Gullstad assist that put the Islanders up 12-11.

At 1:30 remaining, goalie Henry Mansfield had his 12th save of the game and Lacrampe was able to put the ball in the net with 31 seconds left in the game for a 13-11 Islander victory.

“As the season evolves, we will look to improve each game, leveraging from what we did and build as the season goes,” said Hall.

The Islanders will next compete Sept. 20-22 in the West Metro Water Polo Tournament at Beaverton, where they will get to test their skills against the top teams in Oregon.

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