Mercer Island senior midfielder Kendall Riley blocked out all the noise and was completely focused before completing one of the most memorable plays of her high school soccer career.
With less than three minutes left in regulation, the Mercer Island Islanders and Bethel Braves girls soccer teams were tied at 2-2 with a berth in the Class 3A quarterfinals hanging in the balance. Riley, who had a direct free kick from about 30 yards away from the goal on the left side of the field, studied Bethel keeper Isabelle Romero before unleashing a long range shot.
“I saw her go back post (right post) and I just knew that I couldn’t go back post. I tried to aim towards the middle,” Riley said.
Riley’s line drive shot sailed through the air before caroming off the inside of the left post and into the back of the net, giving the Islanders a 3-2 lead they wouldn’t relinquish the rest of the way. Mercer Island’s defense fended off Bethel in the final two minutes, preserving a 3-2 victory in the first round of the Class 3A state playoffs on Nov. 7 at Mercer Island High School.
Riley said it’s the first time the Islanders girls soccer program has advanced to the state quarterfinals since 2009.
“This is a big deal. We’re all really excited,” Riley said.
Mercer Island head coach James Valles wasn’t surprised to see Riley hit the game-winner.
“It was very clutch. She has been a pretty spectacular player all season. She has scored some timely goals just like that. She is always dangerous in those set pieces,” Valles said. “That was one for the ages. I think we’re all pretty darn happy with that one.”
Mercer Island junior forward Elaina Martin scored in the sixth minute of play, giving the Islanders a 1-0 lead. Bethel scored in the 18th minute tying the game at 1-1. Just before halftime Islanders senior midfielder Jessie Stenberg recorded a goal, giving the Islanders a 2-1 lead at halftime.
The Islanders will face Edmonds-Woodway in the Class 3A state quarterfinals. The quarterfinals will take place sometime between Nov. 9 through Nov. 11.