Photo courtesy of Debby Wilson
                                Mercer Island Islanders girls water polo player Annie Ritcey, who is one of the team captains, unleashes a pass during a game during the 2018 season. The Islanders have just one loss thus far.

Photo courtesy of Debby Wilson Mercer Island Islanders girls water polo player Annie Ritcey, who is one of the team captains, unleashes a pass during a game during the 2018 season. The Islanders have just one loss thus far.

Islanders girls water polo program is thriving in the pool

Mercer Island girls water polo team has compiled five victories thus far.

A focus on fundamentals has paid dividends for the Mercer Island Islanders girls water polo squad during the 2018 season.

The Islanders, who have compiled an overall record of 5-1 thus far, suffered their only defeat of the year against the rival Bellevue Wolverines on March 27. Mercer Island head coach Calvin White is thrilled with his team’s dominating start to the season despite losing three premier players to graduation in June of 2017.

“We’re still in the beginning stages of the kids trying to figure out what their roles are on this team. We are basically relying on our returning players and waiting for the younger players to gain confidence in their ability,” White said.

The Islanders squad is led by returners Annie Ritcey (captain), Taylor Winnie (captain), Tess Ritcey (captain), Annie Pearse, Mari Nielsen and Chloe Mark. White, who is in his second season leading the Islanders water polo program, is an old school kind of a coach.

“We want to be fundamentally sound, technically outsmart and outplay our opponents. In a perfect world, I want our team to rely on our stout defense and counter attack offense. That is what we are training for. When we get back to practice on Monday (April 16) we are going to crank up the intensity,” White said on April 10.

White said the top teams in their division are the Newport Knights and Wolverines.

“They are both in close proximity to us. The three of us are going to duke it out for the North title,” White said. “I think this team can be a top four team in the state. We got fifth place at state (tournament) last year after a devastating loss that knocked us out of the top four. It all comes down to this team coming together and understanding our goals and understanding what we are capable of.”

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