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Islanders edge Eagles to take KingCo’s top spot
Heading into Friday’s matchup with undefeated Issaquah, Mercer Island had a plan to stop the Eagles’ offense. When it didn’t work, the Islanders resorted to what they’ve always done, and the results were what they’ve always been.
Mercer Island’s undefeated squad held off the Eagles, winning 10-9 Friday, May 2 at Issaquah High School, to take control of first place in the KingCo standings. The Islanders improved to 9-0 in its division and 16-1 overall, while Issaquah dropped to 8-1 in KingCo and 13-3 overall.
After the game, coach Ian O’Hearn said it felt great to be in first place, but the game got a little too exciting.
“We started out a little slow on our part, but the kids stayed confident and calm. We kept going and slowly chipped away at them.”
It was a playoff atmosphere as the two undefeated KingCo lacrosse teams squared off. The Eagles were off to a fast start, scoring almost at will with three goals in the game’s opening four minutes before a goal by Jack Counihan put Mercer Island on the board. O’Hearn attributed the Islanders’ slow start to a twist his team tried in its defense that wasn’t working out.
“[Issaquah] moves the ball really well and likes the possession game, so we were trying to mess up their momentum by taking away the outside to prevent them from moving the ball and setting up into a motion offense,” he said. “It didn’t work, so we went back to what we were good at, which was our normal defense and it paid off.”
Mercer Island managed to slow Issaquah’s scoring attack, cutting the Eagles’ lead to 5-4 at the end of the first period. The Islanders came out aggressive in the second, but despite getting plenty of shots on goal, were unable to connect until two quick goals from Cooper Johnson gave Mercer Island its first lead at 6-5 with just under three minutes in the half. But Issaquah responded to even the score at six before heading into the half.
The Islanders turned the tables on the Eagles in the second half, creating turnovers and opening with its own three-goal run to take a 9-6 lead. In the fourth, a goal from Evan Condon gave Mercer Island a 10-7 lead with 6:50 remaining. Issaquah managed two quick scores in the game’s final minute, but Mercer Island managed to secure the game’s final faceoff to hold off the Eagles. Johnson had four goals and a ground ball for the Islanders, while Brett Bottomley had two goals, two assists and two ground balls and Peter Mahony had a goal and two assists. In goal, Benji Rothenberg had 12 saves.
Next for Mercer Island will be a matchup with Bellevue at 8 p.m. Friday, May 9 at Islander Stadium. The Islanders lead the Wolverines by a single game in league standings, with Bellevue’s lone blemish coming April 25 in a 6-5 loss to Issaquah.