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Mercer Island vs Bellevue - Game Recap

The Bellevue Wolverines defeat 3A KingCo top ranked team the Mercer Island Islanders in an 11-9 heavyweight bout at Bellevue High School last Friday night.

This game delivered what was promised with two of the highest caliber teams facing each other bringing tough gritty lacrosse to their fans. The first half was a slugfest with both teams matching each other goal for goal the entire 24 minutes. Mercer Island would retake lead after lead in the second quarter but a pushing penalty in the final three minutes allowed Bellevue to capitalize on the EMO to tie it 5-5 before the end of the half.

The game continued in the third much like the first half with both teams taking a goal a piece in the first two minutes. Mercer Island was keeping up with Bellevue for a majority of this game but the third quarter started to see unforced turnover after unforced turnover providing Bellevue with ample opportunities to score. The Islander’s defense was playing well but without being able to maintain possession it was only a matter of time before Bellevue started to run up the score.

The Wolverines maintained composure and capitalized on Islander mistakes by taking a 6-5 lead in the first four minutes of the third quarter. By the time the Islander’s were able to answer back with their own goal, Bellevue strung together two goals in the final minute of the quarter marking their largest lead of the night at 8-6 going into the fourth. Mercer Island has heard this story many times as they continue to put themselves in good position to beat their heated rivals but ultimately fall short amid mental mistakes and pressure.

As Bellevue remained poised under high emotions and heated competition they slowly whittled down their opponent as the Islanders began to crack under Wolverine pressure. The score was 10-7 by the time Mercer Island started amassing penalties. In the final five minutes of the game the Islanders committed five penalties, one of which was in the final second of the game and had no real effect on the outcome. Unable to overcome the adversity, Bellevue soundly snuffed out their rival 11-9 in another Washington State Lacrosse epic.

“I thought the guys had poise today, they played composed, they played as a unit.” said Bellevue Head Coach Nick Welton. “That was important for us because I think the missing ingredient in our season so far is playing as a unit, tying it all together and I thought tonight the guys came out and stayed in that good mental space and played as a group all game long.”

If they were ever going to play as a unit, this game was definitely a good place to start. Having faced this team twice in the state championships already, Welton is fully aware of the pressure and emotion that builds in these match-ups. “We call it ‘the eye of the storm’, the calm amidst all the chaos.” said Welton. His goal to battle this was to keep his boys focused on being poised and disciplined and he was very proud of what he saw in this game.

For Mercer Island Head Coach Ian O’Hearn, it’s all the just more of the same with his squad as the errors mounted high in this contest resulting in what would be expected when you make a lot of mistakes, a loss. “We’ve been talking for weeks about the little things that we control, and we didn’t do a good job of that tonight. It just re-emphasizes that we need to fix our own issues and not worry about what the other team is doing.” said O’Hearn. A song that rang throughout this game for the Islanders ultimately contributed to their loss, “the little things”.

Bellevue moves to 4-1 as they share the second ranked spot with the Juanita Rebels in the 3A KingCo, only one game behind Mercer Island who remains in their top rank at 5-1. Bellevue will get ready to host another tough game against the Eastlake Wolves (5-0) on Wednesday. Mercer Island will reload and move on to face the Mount Si Wildcats (1-4) at Mount Si High School on Tuesday.

Story by Michael Thornbloom

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