Memic mashes Mercer `D"

By Matt Phelps

The Mercer Island boys soccer team came into their first post-season game with a streak of 850 minutes since giving up its last goal. But Newport took just six minutes to tie the game at 1-1 before the flood gates and the clouds opened up on the Islanders. The Knights took the No. 1 seed from 3A KingCo to the state tournament with a 3-2 victory over Mercer Island Thursday.

With the loss, the Islanders hold the No. 2 seed to state and played their first round state game Tuesday (after Reporter deadline).

``I think that mentally we will be fine,'' said Mercer Island boys soccer head coach Steve Newman. ``We just have to regroup and get ready to travel.''

The Islanders got on the board first as David Hill put the ball into the back of the Newport goal just 30 seconds into the game.

But the Knights came back with unrelenting offense. The Knights Mirza Memic broke the Islanders' shutout streak from six yards out on a dribble pass from a teammate to the far post.

``That goal gave them momentum,'' said a distraught Islander goalkeeper Alex Haas. ``I made a mistake and it cost us.''

The tip in also shocked the Mercer Island faithful.

``That goal might have effected (Haas) mentally,'' said Newman. ``But our defense didn't get back to help out. We needed to take better position and take better care of the ball.''

The Newport onslaught continued 10 minutes later as the unthinkable happened -- a second goal. Memic broke away from the Islander defense and went one-on-one with Haas. The keeper came out to defend the goal as the Knight player sent a hard shot to Haas' right. The goalie dove but the ball was too far away and rolled into the net for the 2-1 lead.

``I'll be better tomorrow at practice but tonight is going to be tough,'' said Haas.

Memic came back again two minutes later, this time for the hat trick and an insurmountable lead. A pass from the left sideline found Memic and all he had to do was tap the ball with his foot as Haas had no time to react.

The 3-1 lead was short lived as Islander Phil Spitzer got his team back into the game with just five minutes left in the first half. A long grounder from 35 yards out surprised the Knights as it got past the defense and caught the goalkeeper off guard. The ball rolled into the goal to get the Islanders back into the game.

But for all the scoring in the first half, none of the nine shots-on-goal found the net for either team during the second half. Islander David Addison took over in goal at half time. Addison gave up Mercer Island's only goal during the season to Sammamish, but blocked every attempt by Newport during the second half. The problem was, Mercer Island could not score either.

``We had good pressure during the second half but we couldn't hold it,'' said Newman. ``We just didn't play as well as we could have and they are a really good team.''

Islander Adam Jacobson had the best look at tying the game. Jacobson took a hard shot from the left side of the field just before going out of bounds. A leaping save by the Newport keeper saved the ball, the shot and the game. Mercer Island played franticly during the final ten minutes, despite monsoon like rain, but to no avail as Newport finished the upset.

``I guess it is back to basics,'' said Haas. ``We haven't seen that much action all season. But we will be ready for the first round of state.''

Despite the loss, the 3A KingCo champions can host a playoff game with a win during the first round of the state playoffs.

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