The Mercer Island Islanders girls water polo team earned fifth place at the state tournament on May 26 at the Curtis Aquatic Center in University Place. Photo courtesy of Debby Fry Wilson

The Mercer Island Islanders girls water polo team earned fifth place at the state tournament on May 26 at the Curtis Aquatic Center in University Place. Photo courtesy of Debby Fry Wilson

Islanders girls water polo team earns fifth place at the state tournament

Mercer Island will return 10 varsity players to the roster in 2019.

The Mercer Island Islanders girls water polo team finished the 2018 season with a victory in their final game at the state tournament.

The Islanders, who went 3-2 during the three-day tournament, defeated Auburn Mountainview in the season finale, clinching fifth place at the state tournament on May 26 at the Curtis Aquatic Center in University Place.

Mercer Island head coach Calvin White was thrilled his squad finished the 2018 season with a victory, but wished they would had placed higher in the tourney.

“We went out with a win but it was kind of bittersweet because I told the team at the banquet that I would had liked to see us finish better than fifth place but that is what we got. We made the most of it. We put our best foot forward and won that last game,” White said in a phone interview on June 11.

White said every varsity member of his team got an ample amount of playing time in the season finale against Auburn-Mountainview. White praised a bevy of Islanders athletes for their sizable contributions throughout the duration of the state tournament.

“Annie Ritcey was our senior captain and was phenomenal. Tess Ritcey probably hit the shot of the season when she made a goal against Gig Harbor in our first game of the state tournament. It was the shot heard around the world,” White said. “Our goal Annika Jorgenson stepped up huge. She blocked two five-meter shots throughout the tournament which is phenomenal. She played great.”

White also praised players Annie Pearse, Mari Nielsen, Laine Hooper, Chloe Mark, Taylor Winnie and Mallory Nichol for their performances at the state tournament.

The future is bright for the Islanders water polo program. Mercer Island will return 10 players off of this year’s team to the varsity roster in 2019.

“We’re looking forward to next year. Next year’s team captains will be Annie Pearse and Mari Nielsen,” White said.

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