The Mercer Island boys soccer team knew that there was very little room for error following its losses to Newport and Mount Si to start the season. That focus has led to a 3-0-1 record during the past two weeks, including two big wins against second place Bellevue and a comeback against Sammamish last week.
“We have a lot of motivation with all the people doubting us,” said Islander Radcliffe McDougald. “But we have the ability to be on top.”
The wins push Mercer Island’s record to 6-2-1 and into second place, just four points behind Newport.
That ability and renewed focus came through against the Totems Thursday as the Islanders earned a come-from-behind 3-1 victory. Sammamish came out attacking during the first half, taking an early 1-0 lead during the 22nd minute. That lead held until halftime. Then, Islander Chris Morris tied the game with an unassisted goal during the 52nd minute of the game. Ten minutes later, Islander Leandro Kimura put a second ball in the back of the Totem’s net and Mercer Island never looked back, adding a penalty kick goal by Evan Zahniser with two minutes remaining in the game.
“Any win at this point is big,” said Islander Emmett Weisseman. “We have to keep on putting in those junk goals.”
Weisseman had a big “junk” goal against Bellevue March 3 that gave the Islanders early momentum. At the 10 minute mark of the contest the Mercer Island offense charged the Bellevue net. A hard shot ricocheted off two Islander players and began to roll away from the Bellevue goal. Weisseman was the last player with a chance to score and just tapped the ball back toward the net as the goalkeeper was caught out of position.
Following a Bellevue goal at the 20 minute mark to tie the game, Kimura was credited with a fluke goal that was embarrassing for the Wolverines. Mercer Island’s John O’Meara threw the ball in from out of bounds with two minutes remaining during the first half. The ball floated into a crowd of players in front of Bellevue’s goal but both Islander player in position missed on their shots. Kimura had the last shot but barely tapped the slowly rolling ball. In a last ditch attempt to stop the ball a Bellevue player over extended and knocked the ball directly into the net. The tap by the Bellevue player was ruled indifference as the ball was already headed into the net and Kimura was credited with the score.
“We know we can play better,” said Mercer Island head coach Steve Newman. “But we will take any goal we get.”
There was no doubt about Kimura’s next goal as he put a penalty kick into the upper left corner at the 73rd minute to finish the scoring.
“We are a young team and we need to continue building,” said Newman. “We have had some injuries that have slowed us down but we have a good bunch of kids.”
“We have a lot of offense and all the guys are friends,” said McDougald. “We just need to play together more and it will start clicking.”
The Islanders will have to deal with even more adversity as they will be without four players this week for spring break, despite facing Mount Si Tuesday (after Reporter deadline) and at 7:30 p.m. at Interlake on Friday, April 13.