Islanders gain ground: Tie Newport, beat Issaquah

Chad Coleman/Mercer Island Reporter From left, Islander teammates congratulate John O’Meara after scoring a goal  in a game earlier this season at Islander Stadium. -
Chad Coleman/Mercer Island Reporter From left, Islander teammates congratulate John O’Meara after scoring a goal in a game earlier this season at Islander Stadium.
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Forrest Marowitz is in his first year as the starting varsity goalkeeper with the Mercer Island High School boys soccer team. The sophomore follows a long line of outstanding keepers that have helped the Islander program establish itself as a force, not only in 3A KingCo, but in the state. Marowitz, and the defense in front of him, proved that they will be hard to get a shot past come the 2007 post season, as they shutout Issaquah and league-leading Newport last week.

“It’s never easy [to get a shutout] against anyone,” said Marowitz, who played all 170 minutes. “[Newport] had a lot of decent shots but our entire defense played solid.”

The Islanders were missing three key players during their loss to the Knights earlier this season. The scoreless tie at Newport on Thursday didn’t gain Mercer Island any ground, as they remain in second place, but with five players out head coach Steve Newman took the tie as a good sign.

“We held our own,” said Newman. “We have worked really hard to build from game to game.”

The Knights (8-1-3) were upset by Skyline 1-0 on Saturday, leaving Mercer Island (8-2-2) trailing the league leader by just one point in the standings.

“We will meet them in the playoffs,” said Marowitz. “We want to play them when we are full strength for once.”

The lack of bench help seemed to take its toll on the Islanders during the second half. Every Islander possession was pursued with angst by the Knights. But Mercer Island never let up during a feverish final 15 minutes of regulation. Newport took seven shots-on-goal to Mercer Island’s six during that time. The game was hotly contested and started to look more like American Football rather than English Football.

“I think the refs would have let guys fist fight out there,” said Islander John O’Meara. “A tie is a tie but this feels good because we definitely had the odds against us. They’re not going home with a happy taste in their mouth.”

The Islanders’ best chance to score came just after halftime. During the 46th minute of the game, Islander Derek Johnson took a shot with a defender closing in. The ball sailed right, narrowly missing the net and hitting the far post. The collective moan by the Islander faithful was echoed by the players on the field.

“When Derek took that shot I thought we had the lead,” said Islander Evan Zahniser. “They don’t make any mistakes so this is a good result for us.”

Mercer Island 2, Skyline 0

Mercer Island earned an easy victory against Issaquah, 2-0, on April 19 at Islander Stadium. Johnson got the home team on the board early off a pass from Evan Zahniser. The rocket shot came during the 28th minute of the game. Johnson earned his second goal of the contest with nine minutes remaining off an assist by O’Meara.

The 1-point deficit comes with four games remaining for the Islanders and five for Newport.

“We have to hope that someone else can knock them off,” said Zahniser. “But I am sure we will meet them in the post season.”

The Islanders played at Skyline Tuesday (after Reporter deadline) and will travel to Liberty Friday for a 7:30 p.m. game against the Patriots.

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