Tough playoff road ahead for Mercer Island boys soccer

Sammamish’s Mitchell Rock protects the ball from Mercer Island defender Ari Langman during Tuesday’s game in Bellevue. The Islanders lost 2-1. - Joel Willits/Bellevue Reporter
Sammamish’s Mitchell Rock protects the ball from Mercer Island defender Ari Langman during Tuesday’s game in Bellevue. The Islanders lost 2-1.
— image credit: Joel Willits/Bellevue Reporter

After a 2-1 loss to Sammamish on April 20, the Mercer Island boys soccer team found itself facing a tougher playoff road than anyone had hoped. The loss meant that the team missed out on the KingCo title and will now have to fight its way back into the state tournament.

“The boys were disappointed about Tuesday’s game,” said head coach Steve Newman. “We gave up an early goal. We’re giving up a lot of goals on set plays [like corner kicks]. We outplayed them for the rest of the half, and in the second their keeper made some great saves. Nick Ward threaded the needle with a pass to David Yount for the tie. We probably, and this was my mistake, should have gone for the tie, but we didn’t and they knocked another one in. It really hurt.”

The team bounced back on Friday with a 5-2 win over Interlake and played Juanita on Tuesday, after Reporter deadline.

In order to have a shot at the state playoffs, the team must win out the regular season, and depending on how Mount Si and Sammamish finish, will likely enter the KingCo tournament as the second seed, putting them against the fifth seed. Essentially, Newman said, the team could have three more games, all of which they would have to win, before state.

“We’ve done this before,” said Newman.

But there is no doubt it’s a tough road ahead. The team must not only battle against tough teams ahead, but is dealing with key players being injured. Newman said both Tyler Ybarra and Alex Wood were hurt in the Mount Si game and will be out for three weeks.

“We just need to get healthy,” he said. “There have been nagging injuries, but those two won’t be ready in time [for KingCo games].”

Despite the less-than- hoped-for playoff situation, Newman said the team has really begun to gell on the field after a rough start to the season.

“We’ll be there,” he said of preparing for state. “We just have to take it one game at a time.”

Newman said a big standout for the team in the past couple of games has been freshman Jordan Morris.

“He’s just been exceptional,” said the coach. “We knew he was going to be good, and I wanted him to get as much experience as he could playing down [on JV]. I thought we’d probably bring him up for state, but with the injuries we brought him up earlier.”

Several team performances this week will determine where MIHS plays in the first round of the KingCo tournament. Likely, Newman said, they will be No. 2 facing off against No. 5, which would be played at MIHS on Monday, May 10, at 7:15 p.m. The winner of that game would face the winner of the KingCo No. 3 versus No. 4 on Wednesday, May 12. The winner of the third KingCo game would play a Metro team on Saturday, May 15.

The top two teams from KingCo qualify for the state tournament, held May 28-29 in Lakewood.

For a look at tonight's senior game, in which the team's 14 seniors will be honored visit Mercer Island Reporter's sports blogFrom the Goalline.

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