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Mercer Island's title run ends at state | Prep boys soccer
Mercer Island's quest for its first boys soccer state championship came to an end Saturday, as the Islanders fell to Lakeside 1-0 in the 3A state title game at Sparks Stadium in Puyallup.
A goal from Lakeside's Sharif Kombo in the 19th minute of the first half proved to be the difference, as the Islanders saw its title hopes slip away by a single goal for the second time in three years.
"It's really an emotional loss," said coach Colin Rigby after the game. "While the season had to end at some point, losing the championship is always harder. Even though you can't take away from the effort, it's always just that much harder on you."
The Islanders were riding a five-game postseason winning streak heading into Saturday's title game, coming off a 2-0 win over Sunnyside in the state semifinals. Mercer Island's defense had not allowed a single goal during the state tournament, and the Islanders were equally impressive on offense, scoring twelve goals in its three state tournament games. Striker Ryan Hill accounted for six of those goals and had scored in five straight games.
But the Islanders couldn't find the back of the net against Lakeside's defense, with the Lions limiting the scoring opportunities for Mercer Island's striker.
While Rigby didn't want to take any credit away from Lakeside, he felt his team did everything right and for the most part, outplayed their opponents. After the game, he reiterated to his players the team's mantra of having each other's back, telling his players they should still live by that mantra going forward.
"We were the underdog going into every game in this tournament. To be able to go as far as we did, it's all about the boys. Every amount of success that we had was always through them and the work they put in," he said. "Right now, I'm down and I'm sad and emotionally, it's tough. But this is a group that I don't think anybody on this team will forget for the rest of their life."
Mercer Island finished its season with a league record of 7-3-4 and an overall record of 12-5-5. At halftime of Saturday's game, Mercer Island boys soccer was awarded the 3A boys soccer academic state championship, boasting a GPA of 3.658.
Mercer Island’s Sean Bender charges past Lakeside’s Matt Dayton during the 3A boys soccer state championship game Saturday, May 31 at Sparks Stadium in Puyallup (Joseph Livarchik/Mercer Island Reporter).
From left, Matt LeProwse, Alex Zhu, Derek Sims, Ryan Hill, Ryan Koning (facing away) and Daniel Sims salute the crowd after the Islanders fell to Lakeside 1-0 in the 3A boys soccer state title game.