Water polo finishes second at state tournament

For the second consecutive season, the Mercer Island girls water polo team faced chief rival Newport during the state finals at the King County Aquatic Center. The Islanders finished second in state, but the road to that accomplishment was nothing like last year.

“The girls were really tired,” said Mercer Island coach Bekki Lyon. “You could tell, with the lack of movement, that playing three games in one day was tough.”

While the Knights played the same amount of games during the same eight-hour time span, Newport’s semifinal contest was not nearly as grueling as Mercer Island’s. As a result, the tournament’s championship game was a 12-2 blowout. Christina Weed’s goal with 40 seconds left in the third period was the first point on the board for the Islanders during the finals, as Newport held a 10-0. A goal by Hayley March, assisted by Laura Horton, was the only other score for the Islanders.

“Three games in a row is tough,” said Islander co-captain Emma Peterson, who was elected to the All-State first team. “We lost seven seniors from last year’s team, so getting second place is a huge accomplishment for us.”

The Islanders semifinal game against Castaway Polo Athletic (CPA), which includes players from the Eastside Catholic, Issaquah and the greater Eastside, was the game of the tournament.

Mercer Island found itself down 4-3 with the clock winding down during the fourth quarter. The Islanders tied the game 5-5 by the end of regulation thanks to the fourth goal of the game by Weed, who was selected to the All-State first team.

“When we finally got that game tieing goal we knew that we could win the game,” said Peterson.

But it would be March’s goal during the fourth quarter that would send the Islanders back to the state finals.

“It is tough to come back and play one more game after such an emotional high,” said Lyon. “The physical challenge is enough but the mental aspect is nearly impossible. I think that second place is definitely a success.”

The Islanders began the tournament like a scoring tsunami with a 15-1 thrashing of Kentridge and a 14-3 blowout over Roosevelt during the round robin portion of state to select seeding for the championship bracket during the week. Mercer Island drew Bainbridge Island during the first round early Saturday morning and doubled their score 12-6 to advance.

“These girls did a great job of learning how to play together as a team,” said Lyon. “It was a very good season.”

March, Horton and goalkeeper co-captain Ann Shay were all selected to the All-State second team.

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