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Water polo finishes 5th at tournament in San Diego
The Mercer Island High School boys water polo team finished in fifth place at the San Diego Open tournament last week. The team placed out of the 40-team field, which included some of the best teams from Southern California. The Islanders finished the trip with a 4-1 record over three days.
Two easy wins off the bat earned the Islanders a spot in the top 16 bracket. Against Steele Canyon High School, the final score was 15-3. The Islanders defense recorded 10 steals during the game, and goalkeeper John Ahalt saved eight shots. Henry Fox had the team’s high in scoring with seven goals during the game.
Against Ramona High School, the Islanders buried the competition with a 23-5 final score after Fox was ejected from the game early in the first quarter. Kennan Adams scored nine goals, and Eugene Chong had seven during the game.
In their third game of the tournament, the Islanders had trouble getting going, allowing Westview High School to gain an early 4-0 lead. The Islanders defense was able to hold off the Wolverines with Kyle Nakagaki earning three steals, Theo Danciu gaining two steals for the team while brothers Evan and Kyle Moline each recorded one steal. Chong had nine goals during the game, Fox finished with seven and Adams had two for a grand finish of 18-10.
The next team that Mercer Island faced in the tournament was the top seeded team from The Bishop’s School out of La Jolla, Calif., in the quarterfinals. The top-ranked team earned a 7-1 lead over MI quickly in the first quarter as its defense stopped all Islander advances. After a few lineup changes made by head coach Adam Massmann, Adams was able to provide scoring opportunities, along with teammate Nakagaki. The Islanders couldn’t make up for the earlier deficit and lost the game, 20-12.
In their final game of the tournament against Poway High School, the boys team was down by one point after three quarters. Adams was benched after three ejection penalties forced him from the game, but Danciu stepped in to score two goals in the fourth quarter, giving the Islanders the lead with 45 seconds remaining in the game. After a battle for a loose ball near the Islander goal, Chong was ejected and Poway was able to score during the power play to take the game to overtime.
In overtime, the teams went three for three, keeping the score tied to head into a sudden death overtime situation. The Islanders defense was able to hold off the attack and earned a 6-on-5 power play. Fox faked a shot and passed to Nakagaki across the pool, who made the game-winning goal. The final score was 17-16.
During the final game, Ahalt had four major saves in overtime.
Chong was named to the All-Tournament first team after nine goals in the Islanders’ final game of the tournament.
The team will hold a scrimmage against the University of Washington men’s team on Thursday at Mercer Island Country Club before playing Bellevue on Friday afternoon in the last game of the regular season. The state tournament will begin on Nov. 6 at the King County Aquatic Center in Federal Way.