The Mercer Island Islanders boys soccer team waited nearly 10 months for another opportunity to face the Interlake Saints.
Interlake, who captured a 1-0 victory against Mercer Island in the Class 3A state championship game in May 2016, is aiming to win their third consecutive state championship this season. The Islanders were clicking on all cylinders against the defending champs en route to a convincing 4-2 victory against the Saints on March 21 at Interlake High School in Bellevue. Mercer Island improved their overall record to 3-1 with the win while Interlake dropped to 2-1-1. Mercer Island midfielder Sam Lee, who scored a team-high two goals against Interlake, said his team was intensely focused for the showdown. The Islanders had a commanding 4-1 lead at halftime.
“We worked hard to build up to this. We knew they were a great team and we knew they were going to be competitive. I’m really glad with the result. The hard work paid off,” Lee said. “I think our team is starting to gel and the team chemistry is really coming together.”
Lee scored the goal of the night in the 10th minute of play. Lee’s laser beam line drive shot from 35 yards out found the back of the net, giving the Islanders a 2-0 lead early in the first half. Mercer Island midfielder Jack Delay scored the first goal of the game in the second minute. Mercer Island defender Reis Kissel scored in the 32nd minute, giving Mercer Island a 3-1 lead at that juncture of the game. Mercer Island head coach Colin Rigby wasn’t surprised to see his team amped for the matchup against a squad that denied them a state title 10 months ago.
“It is not hard to motivate the guys in a game like this,” Rigby said with a smile. “The guys were really excited to play this game. It has become a great rivalry between the two teams. We got a lot of respect for them. They (Interlake) always come out and fight. I told the guys it was going to be an 80-minute game.”
The Saints cut the Islanders lead to 2-1 after senior Noah Parsons found the back of the net in 12th minute of play. The Saints scored again in the 47th minute, slicing Mercer Island’s lead to 4-2 but wouldn’t get any closer for the remainder of the game. Interlake head coach Dan Peterson said his team made too many mishaps against a team of Mercer Island’s caliber.
“They took advantage of our mistakes. Give all the credit to them. They were where they were supposed to be and we certainly made some mistakes,” Peterson said. “We felt like we were close (scoring goals) a few times but we couldn’t quite get the final touch we needed to finish. Obviously we have some stuff we need to clean up. It happens. Mercer Island is good. We didn’t play well against them and they capitalized on us.”