Mercer Island High School’s boys soccer players came close to cracking the back of the net, but the goal was left empty on May 10 during the 3A KingCo championship match.
Several shots sailed just wide and a Hazen defender cleared a potential equalizer off the goal line during the Highlanders’ 2-0 victory at Mercer Island. With the win, Hazen qualified for state, while Mercer Island will host Interlake at 7 p.m. on Thursday in a battle for the league’s final state spot.
The top-seeded Islanders won the regular-season league crown with a 9-2-2 record and currently stand at 10-3-2 overall. Fourth-seeded Interlake (7-8-2 overall) beat No. 3 seed Liberty (Renton), 3-2, on May 10 to set up the MI match. Second-seeded Hazen sports a 12-3-1 overall record heading into state, which will begin May 16-17.
During league play, Mercer Island beat Hazen, 5-1, and the teams fought to a 0-0 draw in their second matchup. On May 10, Giovanni Garcia scored a first-half goal and Jordan Stroud tallied an insurance netter in the second half for the Highlanders.
“I think we’ll be able to rebound and come out hard against this Interlake team that beat us before and I think we’re coming back (with a) vengeance,” said Mercer Island senior co-captain Hawkins Sanborn following the title match. In regular-season play, Interlake first beat MI, 2-0, and then the Islanders later triumphed over the Saints, 4-2.
Sanborn said it’s more than just soccer for the guys. During his four years on the squad, Sanborn said he’s enjoyed the good times on and off the field with his buddies.
“We’ve been working hard all season long. Even before the season started, guys would get together and we built a team that’s full of chemistry and full of friendship and love,” he added.
Senior Brady Gilroy, who captains the team along with Sanborn and fellow senior Cooper Gersch, said he’s learned a lot about balancing criticism and leadership during his four years as a varsity player.
“It’s always been super positive. Coach Forrest (Marowitz) has built a super good atmosphere here,” Gilroy said. “His first year was my first year in the high school as well, and I’ve kind of built a relationship with him over the last couple of years and all kind of leading to this point.”
It was a tough loss against Hazen and Gilroy feels the Islanders can return to their winning form against Interlake. The raucous student section at the front of the home grandstand is a plus, he said.
“I think we know that when we fulfill our potential on this field, when we really piece it together, I don’t think any of us on this team believe that there’s a team out there that can beat us when we’re at our best,” Gilroy said. “I think it’s just about getting those pieces together, especially in the final third looking to score.”
Against Hazen, MI junior goalkeeper Jackson Barker notched a diving grab in the first half and snagged the ball off a forward’s foot during a one-on-one situation in the second half.