Things were looking bleak for the Mercer Islanders boys soccer team late in the second half against the Juanita Rebels in a 3A KingCo matchup.
Juanita took a 1-0 lead when senior forward Osvaldo Arechiga connected on a goal in the 72nd minute of play, giving the Rebels a 1-0 lead.
The lead didn’t last long.
With less than five minutes left in regulation, Juanita was called for a hand ball close to the goal resulting in a penalty kick opportunity for the Islanders. Mercer Island senior Matt Capone calmly placed a penalty kick shot in the lower left corner of the goal, tying the game at 1-1 to force overtime.
Neither team recorded a goal in the first five-minute overtime session. In the 87th minute of play, Mercer Island junior midfielder Luca Mtskhetadze connected on a header goal off of a corner kick on a picture-perfect pass from Capone, giving the Islanders a 2-1 lead. Mercer Island’s defense was able to prevent Juanita from scoring in the final three minutes of play, preserving an epic 2-1 victory for the Islanders on April 11.
Mercer Island improved its overall record to 6-2-3 with the win while Juanita dropped to 1-6-2 overall. It was the first time Mercer Island had won a game since March 28. Mercer Island head coach Forrest Marowitz was thrilled to see his team get back in the win column.
“Up until this point, we were sitting on a loss, a tie and a loss, so getting a win tonight was imperative not just for the standings but for our morale,” Marowitz said. “The fact that we got that game-winning goal was just massive.”
Mtskhetadze echoed Marowitz’s sentiment following the game.
“This was a big game for our season. It was a decider for us. We needed to come out here and get three points (a victory is three points in the standings),” Mtskhetadze said.
Mtskhetadze credited Capone for his sterling assist on the game-winning score.
“We had been getting shots all game long. We just needed to put one away. I knew that one was gone (goal) as soon as he kicked it,” Mtskhetadze said.
Arechiga said the Rebels gave it everything they had against the Islanders.
“We thought we had it but that’s how the game is. We played good and we tried our best,” Arechiga said.
Marowitz wasn’t concerned despite trailing the Rebels with just eight minutes remaining in regulation.
“Even though we went down 1-0, we dominated the whole game. We just kept getting our chances and just couldn’t get one to go. They sneaked one back in (Arechiga’s goal in the 72nd minute). That is how soccer goes. We didn’t hold our heads down and we came back and kept fighting,” Marowitz said.