In what could be considered a preview of the state water polo tournament next month, the top four teams in the South League squared off against the top four teams of the North League at the Lakes High School water polo tournament, Oct. 12-13.
Mercer Island (4-2 league, 9-4 overall) advanced undefeated through pool play, dispatching last year’s state runner-up Curtis, 13-3, as well as South League contender Auburn-Riverside, 16-3. On the way to the championship round, Mercer Island also beat league rival, Roosevelt, 13-7. The Roughriders looked stunned as the Islander defeat came only two days after Roosevelt beat the Islanders, 13-8, at Mercer Island’s home pool.
The Islanders trailed Roosevelt, 4-5, at the half, and it looked like it might be a repeat of the earlier-in-the-week contest. However, the Islanders came charging out in the third quarter, scoring six unanswered goals to seize a 10-5 lead at the end of the third. The Maroon Men remained stubborn on defense and won the game, 11-8. Goalie Henry Mansfield had five blocks, and Goalie Hunter Peshkin had two stops.
The Islanders continued their march toward the championship game by beating Auburn-Mountainview, 13-7, to earn a match up against last year’s state champion, Bellevue. The Islanders knew the undefeated Bellevue would be a tough opponent.
In the opening quarter, the Islanders had multiple turnovers that led to easy fast breaks for Bellevue, yet the score remained close as the Wolverines led 5-3. The trend continued in the second quarter as Bellevue took advantage of cross bar rebounds and pool position to score. At halftime, the Wolverines widened the gap to a 12-6 lead. During the third and fourth quarters, the teams traded goals, but the Islanders were never able to close the gap, ultimately losing by 6 for a final score of 12-18. Anthony Pedreira was the leading Islander goal scorer, with four put into the net.
The Islanders are still searching for the secret sauce against Bellevue as they also lost to the Wolverines, 14-16, in league play on Oct. 1. The Islanders will get one more shot at Bellevue prior to playoffs with a home contest at 7:45 p.m., Oct. 22, at the Mercer Island Country Club.