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Islanders slip past Newport - Mercer Island takes control of KingCo with a rainy shutout of arch rival Knights
By Matt Phelps
The Newport boys soccer team came into Islander Stadium on Thursday without a loss in two years of regular-season play. Newport left the stadium in second place in 3A KingCo.
The 1-0 shutout of the Knights, combined with a 1-0 shutout of Bellevue on Saturday, put the Islanders atop the 3A KingCo Division. The victories continue a streak of 200 minutes of shutout soccer by the team this season.
``We knew that the KingCo title goes through Newport,'' said Mercer Island boys soccer head coach Steve Newman. ``A loss would have been tough, but this puts the pressure on.''
The pressure will now switch to Newport as the two teams face each other one more time at Newport on April 28.
``We just had a solid back line,'' said Islander Chuck Vallieres. ``This is huge. We have a huge chance at KingCo.''
Mercer Island has been playing such tough defense that no one has scored on them. Newport had 10 corner kicks during the game and not one got close to the Islander net.
Mercer Island had just one corner kick, but only needed Vallieres head to earn the only goal of the game.
Islander Bryan Alterman took a pass at mid-field and broke away down the left sideline with a Knight player in tow.
``I saw Chuck's floppy hair in the middle of the field and I know that he is good at finishing,'' said Alterman.
Alterman sent a blistering pass to Vallieres. The junior used his head to ricochet the ball just past the goalie and into the back of the Newport net at the 46-minute mark.
``Alterman sent a great ball to the far post and I had to finish it,'' said Vallieres.
The score came just after a first half of missed opportunities. The Islanders had eight shots-on-goal and more yellow cards (one) than points.
The physical game, mixed with pouring rain and a slick field, resulted in many penalty stoppages and tension on the field.
A penalty kick by Newport came close to giving the Knights an early lead. From 50 yards away a Newport player sent a hard shot directly at the Islander goal. A Mercer Island player headed the ball, sending it just beyond the reach of Mercer Island goal keeper Alex Haas and the cross bar.
``Our whole defense is playing really well,'' said Alterman. ``It isn't just one person. The defense has been together a while.''
Another hard penalty kick almost knocked Haas to the ground as it struck his chest.
Alternating goal keepers between David Addison and Haas has worked out well for Mercer Island as both have come up with big plays at key times this season.
Addison saved a goal during the second half and the game for Mercer Island during the 68th minute. A breakaway by Newport resulted in an open-field shot from 30 yards away. The shot, heading for the left corner of the goal, caught Addison protecting right. The keeper dove, slid on the wet turf, barely grabbing the ball in time.
``Addison just had an amazing game,'' said Vallieres. ``The whole team played well. The ball moves quickly in rain like this. It is a faster pace game, but it is that way for both teams.''
Addison played the entire game in goal for the Islanders at Issaquah High School on March 29 in a 3-0 victory over the Eagles. Addsion got early help when Islander David Hill scored on a pass from Taylor Nelp during the third minute of the game. Hill scored again in the 30th minute. Islander Daniel Kashima put the final goal on the board on a pass from Adam Jacobson.
Saturday, the two keepers teamed up again for their fifth shutout this year, as Vallieres scored in the 14th minute of the game off an assist by Peter Cohen.
Mercer Island hosted Sammamish Tuesday night (after Reporter deadline) and will attempt to continue the shutout streak against Interlake at 7:30 p.m. Thursday.