At the beginning of April, the Mercer Island boys soccer team fell to fifth place in 3A KingCo and were in danger of heading out of the postseason playoff picture all together. The team will not play in the KingCo playoffs this season but will bypass them instead.
The Islanders completed a huge comeback with a win at Sammamish, 2-1, on Thursday to take the league title and the No. 1 seed from KingCo into the state playoffs.
“This means a lot to us,” said Radcliffe McDougald. “To get this far after being in fifth place is great. We peaked at the right time.”
The victory came despite missing one of their best players, Keegan Tomita, who was hospitalized that evening and released Sunday.
The Islanders fell behind early to Sammamish, 1-0, as the Totems scored in the final seconds of the first half. But Mercer Island’s perseverance and powerful offense came through early in the second half. Nine minutes into the second half, McDougald found teammate Nick Ward, who put the ball into the back of the net to tie the game. Four minutes later, Islander Jed Jacobson found Ward for the eventual championship winning goal.
“We built all year for this,” said Mercer Island coach Steve Newman. “I am happy with how we have been playing.”
Mercer Island’s record has been 8-0-1 since April 3, and the team finished the season with a record of 11-3-2.
“The entire season, we have been a second-half team,” said Islander Chris Morris. “We knew we could win this.”
But the second half of the team’s 3-2 overtime win against Bellevue on April 29 nearly cost the team its shot at completing the regular-season comeback.
An early lead by the Wolverines was erased by one Islander player, Radcliffe McDougald. The senior took a long shot-on-goal from 80-feet out and connected to tie the game at the 20-minute mark. Two minutes later, McDougald scored again from the right side to give Mercer Island a 2-1 lead heading into a chilly halftime break.
Mercer Island had six shots-on-goal during the second half and could not connect on any of them. Islander goalkeeper Forrest Marrowitz came up big three minutes into the second half on a one-on-one Bellevue opportunity. In the 68th minute, Marrowitz narrowly made a finger-tip save.
“We all felt like if we got one early in the second half we could put it away,” said McDougald. “We missed a lot of chances but we battled and that is what matters.”
But with second left in the game the Wolverines tied the game.
“I had my hands out and it just went through them, right by my head,” said Marrowitz. “But the other guys made up for it.”
Mercer Island would score the game winner in overtime as senior John O’Meara threw the ball in and Morris headed it to the back of the net.
“I wasn’t even trying to score,” said Morris. “I am not gonna lie, I got lucky.”
The luck of the Islanders will keep them in practice out of games for two weeks as they will compete in the first round of the state playoff at 7 p.m. on May 13. Their opponent and location of the game is still to be determined.