Slow starts have plagued the Mercer Island girls water polo team this year. A slow start on Wednesday almost cost the team a win against Sammamish.
“I wasn’t worried,” said Islander girls water polo coach Mike Goldstein. “We didn’t play well but we still managed to pull it out.”
With the game knotted at 1-1 during the first quarter, Sammamish took control of the contest with stifling defense and two consecutive goals. Mercer Island finished the first quarter by failing to score on each of their final five possessions.
“We didn’t play to win,” said Goldstein. “We have to play better against Sammamish because we might see them in the state tournament.”
The Islanders finally got their offense going as Hayley March and Georgia Gier scored on consecutive possessions to begin the second quarter and tie the game at 3-3.
“The team just pulled together and everyone helped each other,” said March.
That sense of team carried the Islanders to a 5-3 lead on four unanswered goals.
But the Totem offense was persistent, tying the game at 6-6 on a half-pool shot that clanged off the back of the Islander goal.
“We’ve beat this team before,” said March. “We just needed that adrenaline rush to kick in.”
That adrenaline rush must have hit March the hardest as she went on the attack. With Sammamish threatening to take the lead, Gier snatched a hard shot out of the air with one hand, then whipped the ball to March who used the fast break to score second goal of the game. March scored on the ensuing possession as teammate Katie Stadius set her up with a quick pass from the outside. March returned the favor with an assist to Catie Lawrence for a 9-6 Islander lead. The Islanders ended the third half with March’s four goal of the game, all but ending the contest.
“Our outside shot is what concerns me,” said Goldstein. “We need to develop all of our options.”
The lack of focus during the first quarter has only cost Mercer Island one game this season, that coming against rival Newport. The Islanders got some pay back for one of their only losses this season as they defeated the Knights during the finals of the Shorewood Invitational. Mercer Island was led by Christina Weed with four goals and four steals during the contest, while Katie Stadius added three assists.
The Islanders began the tournament with a 14-2 drubbing of Olympic Aquatic Club as Stephanie Hammond put four shots in the back of the net to pace Mercer Island.
The Islanders earned their second victory over Sammamish in five days during the semi finals 15-11, thanks to Weed’s six-goal effort.
The Islanders will get a chance at redemption Thursday as they play an away game at Mary Wayte Pool on Mercer Island against the Knights.
The Shorewood Invitational was a chance for all the teams involved to get in a warm up for the state tournament, which will take place at the King County Aquatic Center in Federal Way on May 20.