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3A State Championship - Bellevue vs Mercer Island

The Mercer Island Islanders prove they were the hungrier team in one of their best offensive performances in their 14-6 championship victory over the Bellevue Wolverines at Starfire Complex. Story by Michael Thornbloom. Photos courtesy of SoundLacrosse.com

Mercer Island came out hot in the first half with junior midfielder Will Wheeler securing two goals and one assist in the first quarter for the Islanders. This contributed to five of their first quarter goals as they held their longtime rivals to a mere one goal, quickly applying the pressure for the Wolverines to find an answer. The second quarter had Bellevue with the ball for the majority but Mercer Island’s defense was forcing them to take shots from the dirt as many of them flew wide. The Islanders were able to maintain their strong lead with goal-for-goal answers and a stout defense to end the half 7-3.

The Islanders didn’t give up any momentum coming into the second half as they were making every Bellevue position difficult on them to get anywhere offensively. Mercer Island put the stranglehold on them scoring three more goals in the third quarter to make it a 10-4 game against the defending champs. Bellevue facing a 6-goal deficit needed to find an answer if they were going to four-peat their championship run. Bellevue began to put up a fight and strung together a pair of goals getting them within 4 goals of tying the game. They had an opportunity to get their seventh goal but a costly turnover gave the rock back to the Islanders and all chances of Bellevue getting back into this game was washed away as the Islanders pressed on with four more goals to close out the game 14-6.

Islander junior midfielder Will Wheeler (3g, 3a) and senior attackman Hunter Johnson (3g, 2a) put together 6 goals and 5 assists in their victory over Bellevue. They were playing out of their minds in this game as they exploited a weaker Wolverine’s defense making it incredibly difficult for Bellevue to come up with any answers.

This game came down to whoever was the hungrier team, and with haunted memories of past championship losses and an earlier regular season loss to the Wolverines, this Islander team had all the motivation it needed to topple the giant. “We've spent the past three weeks specifically focusing on our own systematic issues. I think we corrected those issues, and it showed.” said Islander head coach Ian O’Hearn.

This was the Islanders 15th State Championship appearance since 2001, winning 7 Championships overall (the last 6 under Coach O'Hearn). This game also coincidentally marked Coach O'Hearn's 300th career win. With all of their efforts this season coming to fruition, the Islanders can bring home the trophy and hang their hat on this year as a total success.

Story by Michael Thornbloom

Photos courtesy of SoundLacrosse.com

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