Mercer Island boys water polo takes sixth in San Diego

The Mercer Island High School men’s water polo team took sixth overall out of the 32-team field during the Greater San Diego Invitational Water Polo Tournament last weekend. Despite sending one of their youngest teams in years, the Islanders advanced to the fifth-place game before succumbing to Santana High School of San Diego, 16-9. The tournament boasts some of the best teams from Southern California, including 16 ranked teams from San Diego High School Division’s I and II.

The first game saw the Islanders play Mt. Miguel High School. Two steals in the first minute of play by Islander Karci Somogyuari led to goals by teammate Kennan Adams. Stellar defensive play and a hat trick by Islander senior Peter Zajac led the team to an 8-0 win. Mercer Island senior David Bowman also contributed two goals for Mercer Island.

The Islanders faced seventh ranked Westview in the second game of tournament play at Westview’s home pool. The game was a close affair played by two evenly matched teams. Adams scored on a six-on-five opportunity for the Islanders to put them ahead 2-1. Westview came back on a power play to tie the score. Adams completed a first quarter hat trick to put the Islanders ahead 4-2. The second and third quarters were marked by strong defensive play with neither team able to establish command. The Islanders held a 7-6 edge to start the final period. Mercer Island coach, Adam Massmann, made adjustments during the break which led to two goals by Quinn Sterling to give the Islanders a seemingly insurmountable 9-6 lead with under four minutes to play. However, Westview came back within one goal and the Islanders needed a steal by Sterling and a save by goalie, John Ahalt, to give them an close 9-8 victory, sending them into pool play with the top eight teams.

The Islanders drew perennial powerhouse and tournament host Valhalla High School to start the second day of competition. Mercer Island’s Henry Fox put on an offensive show, recording seven goals during the contest. Unfortunately, Valhalla would match the scoring barrage, as Islander defensive lapses led to uncontested goals. Valhalla led the contest 4-3 at the end of the first quarter and then held the Islanders scoreless during the second period to take a 7-3 lead. Mercer Island came out of its halftime huddle for two quick goals by Fox and Sterling to bring them within two at 7-5. Valhalla would take a 15-12 victory from the Islanders. Sterling finished with three goals, while Adams and Zajac would score one each.

The loss resulted in a matchup with the 10th-ranked Division 1 team, Eastlake High School. The Islanders came out flat after the loss to Valhalla and the contest was tied 3-3 at the end of the first quarter. A steal by Zajac to start the second period led to a hard foul by an Eastlake player against Fox. Adams converted the resulting penalty shot to give the Islanders a 5-3 lead. The play ignited the Islanders, who would charge to an 11-5 lead at half and an eventual win, 18-6, sending them to the fifth-place game. Sterling led the team with six goals during the game, as Adams and Somogyuari would add four each.

Mercer Island would face another San Diego powerhouse, Santana High School, during its final game of the tournament. The Islanders came out slow, giving up two goals to Santana on its first two possessions. Zajac got fouled, leading to a Santana ejection. Fox would score on the subsequent power play. Several defensive lapses would lead to a 4-1 deficit for the Islanders at the end of the first period. The Islanders never mounted a challenge after the first quarter, en route to the loss. Fox led Mercer Island scorers with three goals, followed by Adams and Zajac with two each.

The tournament results leave the Islanders with a 24-4-1 record for the year. They will finish their season at the Washington State High School Championship Tournament at the King County Aquatic Center on Saturday.

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