Soccer maintains first place

Islander Matt Johnson brings the ball up field for the unbeaten boys soccer team. - Chad Coleman/Mercer Island Reporter
Islander Matt Johnson brings the ball up field for the unbeaten boys soccer team.
— image credit: Chad Coleman/Mercer Island Reporter

The Mercer Island boys soccer team improved to 7-0-1 last week with wins against Sammamish and Mount Si, maintaining its first-place lead in 3A KingCo.

“We’ve all been playing together a while, and we’re stacked with good players,” said Islander captain Chris Morris. “We just need to keep getting better.”

Mercer Island beat Mount Si, 2-1, on March 31 and then traveled to Sammamish to take on the Totems on Friday. The Islanders were led by junior Danny Strome, who scored two goals during the contest.

Mercer Island began the game with an 8-1 advantage in shots-on-goal during the first 20 minutes of the game. The team came away with just one score during that time, as two goals were called back due to penalties.

The Islanders’ first goal came during the first 60 seconds of the game, when Mercer Island junior David Yount stole the ball with his chest in front of the Totem goal box. A quick pass from Yount to Islander Tyler Ybarra, crossing from right to left, set the goalkeeper to dive left as the shot off Ybarra’s foot went right and into the back of the goal.

“We were really passing the ball around well during the beginning part of the game,” said Strome. “We have been progressively playing better and better.”

The Totems would outshoot Mercer Island during the final 20 minutes of the first half, 5-4. One of those shots, a header directly in front of the goal, sailed to Mercer Island goalkeeper Forrest Morowitz’s left. With an all-out lead, Morowitz narrowly made the save to preserve the lead.

The Islanders took a two-goal lead just three minutes into the second half, as James Kashima brought the ball into the Totems’ end of the field, up the right side. Kashima found Strome sprinting up the middle of the field and put the ball at his feet. Strome set a hard shot into the Totem net during the 41st minute of the game.

“I just got open in good places, and my teammates kept feeding me good balls,” said Strome. “We thought we were a good team from the start of the season. But we still need to improve a lot.”

Sammamish finally got on the board two minutes later to cut the lead to just one score. But Mercer Island would end the Totems’ chances for a comeback, as Morris hooked up with Strome for the team’s third goal with 17 minutes left in the contest.

The Islanders hosted Interlake on Tuesday (after Reporter deadline) and will host Juanita at 7:30 p.m. on Friday in Islander Stadium.

Mercer Island’s next big test will come on April 17 in a second game with Bellevue High School, this time at home.

“We have to start finishing our chances,” said Morris. “But our record is right where we want it.”

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