In a contest featuring a downpour of heavy precipitation for the majority of the game, the Mercer Island Islanders boys soccer team earned a monumental victory against the rival Interlake Saints.
Mercer Island earned a 4-3 win against Interlake in the second matchup of the 2017 season between the KingCo 3A squads on April 12 at Mercer Island High School. The Islanders improved its overall record to 10-1 with the win while Interlake dropped to 6-4-1. The Islanders, who captured a 4-2 win against Interlake on March 21, nabbed the season sweep of the 2016 defending state champions.
Islanders’ midfielder Lucas Meek, who scored on a penalty kick in the 58th minute giving his team a 4-2 lead, said the rivalry between the two teams is intense. Interlake defeated 1-0 Mercer Island in the Class 3A state title game in May 2016.
“Just to get back at them is unbelievable. It is an amazing feeling. There is obviously a past with this team. You feel it every time you are out there,” Meek said. “We really wanted to make sure they know who we are. Even though they do have the state championships [2015, 2016 season] it is still a good feeling.”
Mercer Island got on the board courtesy of a Emil Talerman goal in the second minute of play. Interlake’s James Sullivan scored in the 12th minute, tying the game at 1-1. Mercer Island’s Sam Lee [13th minute] Ryan Moline [25th minute] scored goals in the first half, extending the Islanders lead to 3-1. Just two minutes before halftime Interlake midfielder Cameron Rao found the back of the net, cutting Mercer Island’s lead to 3-2.
The turning point of the second half came with just 23 minutes in regulation. Interlake goalie Sam Dawson, who had already received a yellow card earlier in the game, was issued his second yellow card of the contest which resulted in a red card and an ejection. The Saints were forced to play the final 23 minutes of the game with just 10 players on the field. Meek scored on a penalty kick with 22 minutes left in the game, extending Mercer Island’s lead to 4-2. Despite being down a player in the final 22 minutes of regulation, the Saints rose to the occasion. Rao scored on a penalty pick with six minutes left in the contest, cutting Mercer Island’s lead to 4-3. Interlake played the majority of the final five minutes on Mercer Island’s side of the field but couldn’t score the game-tying goal. Lee said the Islanders have a lot of respect for the Saints soccer program.
“We all know that they are a great team and that we are competitive. There is a rivalry and there is kind of a bad blood between us but it is a good competitiveness. During the game it may be very physical but after the game we can makeup as athletes which is pretty cool,” Lee said of the rivalry. “It was a great game. We let in some goals we thought we shouldn’t have. They played well and scored on their chances. We were glad to get that win.”
Saints’ head coach Dan Peterson thought his team played much better in the second half as opposed to the first 40 minutes of play.
“We have not played well in the first half but have come out and played really well in the second half. That’s been kind of a common theme with us the last few weeks. It is something we need to address as a team but I couldn’t be prouder of how we played in the second half. I really couldn’t be prouder of how we played in the last 20 minutes down to 10 men on the field,” Peterson said. “We got one goal back [Rao’s goal in the 74th minute] and we felt like we were going to get another one. We just need to quit putting ourselves in that position where we look up and we are down 1-0 or 2-0 in the first half. We have done that a lot this year.”
Lee said winning a one-goal game was huge for his squad.
“This was a learning experience and this only helps us. We like being put in those situations because we are going to be put in those situations later on down the road. This just helps us prepare for whatever comes next later in the year,” he said.