The Mercer Island Islanders boys soccer team will travel more than 5,100 miles to compete in one of the most prestigious soccer tournaments on the planet in early July.
The Islanders, who advanced to the Class 3A state quarterfinals during the 2017 season, will compete in the formidable Donosti Cup International tournament from July 2-8 in San Sebastian, Spain. The Islanders flew to Spain on June 30.
“Everybody is super excited about the trip. It takes a whole village to get a group like this to go out there. We’ve had endless support from family, friends and the community,” Mercer Island boys soccer head coach Colin Rigby said in a phone interview on June 27. “Everybody is really excited about experiencing a different country and experiencing soccer in a different country.”
Rigby said the tournament begins with Round Robin play but eventually proceeds into loser-out games. The Islanders are excited get back on the field after losing 2-1 to the Garfield Bulldogs in a loser-out, Class 3A state quarterfinal playoff game on May 20 at Seattle Memorial Stadium. Mercer Island won the KingCo 3A title courtesy of a 2-1 win against the Lake Washington Kangaroos on May 6.
“We’ve put together a couple of trainings and had a couple of scrimmage games against some competitive teams in the area and have done well. The other cool part about the trip is that it lets the high school coaching staff kind of see who is going to be around for next season . It is a great opportunity for us [coaching staff] to get them extra touches on the ball and build that chemistry.”
The Islanders soccer squad went on a similar trip as a team in the summer of 2015 to Portugal. The following spring the Islanders advanced to the Class 3A state title game against the Interlake Saints. Mercer Island dominated the game but Interlake registered a 1-0 victory.
“I think it [competing in tournament in Portugal] had a lot to do with it [championship game berth]. The unique piece about Mercer Island is that a lot of these kids have known each other since they were six years old and have played on the same teams,” Rigby said. “I think they are always driven to the point where they are reaching for that top goal. This [trip] is a really exciting opportunity.”