Issaquah Defeats Mercer 9-7, Snapping Winning Streak
The hosting Issaquah Eagles upset the Mercer Island Islanders 9-7, effectively snapping an Islander regular season win streak against in-state opponents dating back to 2008. The Eagles did it with a tough defense that forced turnovers and capitalized on Islanders’ errors. The game got underway with action flowing back-and-forth. Issaquah, usually a strong transition team utilized their mobility up and down the field the entire game.
Midfielder Duncan Hamilton opened up scoring with a hard dodge down the alley, but the Islanders responded quickly on the next possession after a sharp skip pass from Connor Bernal to open teammate Alex Robbs. The first few minutes and possessions would be telling of the entire game. Issaquah again forced a turnover and pushed the ball in transition as Alex Ciszewski finished a fast break. On offense, the Eagles played smart- controlling possession and keeping the Islander defense moving. However, the Islander defense forced a big turnover after a nice check by Brent Tsang sending the ball the other way in transition. The play could have been finished by attackman Edan Stern, but Issaquah goalie O'Neil Hughes made the first big save of the game point blank on him. Mercer Island kept possession with less than one minute to play in the first. Bernal ran around the Issaquah defense and tied the game 2-2 at the end of the first.
The second quarter began with more back-and-forth action. Robbs scored again unassisted, who has emerged early on as the Islander's go-to initiator. Issaquah continued to pressure and force transition on the Islander defense. However, they found more success with their settled offense as Ben Director scored unassisted on a nice alley dodge. The Issaquah midfielders exposed a slight chick in the Islander armor- a weak defensive midfield. The Eagle’s dodgers were strong often getting their shots off before the defensive slide reached them. Issaquah stepped up their face-off play that favored the Islanders early on, swinging momentum late in the second quarter. Once again the Eagles settled and Julian Ritchie fed Ciszewski cutting through the inside to extend the lead 5-3. However, after a timeout Mercer Island immediately won the enduing face off and Devlin Conway quickly fed sophomore long stick midfielder Chase York for his first career varsity goal. The first half scoring was finished out by Islander Hayden Reisman, after shaking his defender up top. The score was 5-5 at halftime
There was a certain excitement in the air as both teams came out fired up to start the third quarter. Immediately the game’s intensity picked up, big hits and checks came up and down the field. Again, in transition defender Eric Rauch scored with a pole. It was followed almost immediately by Ben Director with an unassisted goal, bringing Issaquah's crowd into the game.
Robbs stepped up big time, putting the team on his back with two unassisted goals, bringing Mercer Island’s fans into the game. Issaquah defense was unrelenting with pressure, continually forcing the Islanders to work and creating loose ball situations. Islander goalie Carlos Barrios remained strong in cage taking several shots from dodging midfielders. He made a great point blank one-on-one save he should not have made, keeping the Islanders in the game. By late in the third quarter penalties began to come as the aggressiveness began to build, but the extra man opportunities were largely ineffective. Issaquah held a slight lead 8-7 after Hamilton scored at the end of the third quarter.
Issaquah was slowly amassing momentum as both teams sensed this game was not going to give without a fight. The Eagles kept up their pressure as mental mistakes and poor passing consistently led to Islander turnovers. Poor passing also got the best of Issaquah, stifling several scoring opportunities. However, Issaquah remained tenacious, riding hard on the Islander clears, fighting each minute of the game. As time began to tick away, possession became even more strategic as the Eagles looked to extend their one goal lead. The Islanders began to loose focus as poor passing, crease violations, and offsides penalties hindered an Islander equalizer. With less than three minutes in regulation, the fans of both teams stood on their feet cheering after an Islander timeout.
The Islanders started with possession and got a shot off, but O’Neil Hughes made save. Issaquah pushed transition, but the ball was knocked loose at the midfield and it rolled toward the Islander goal, where Ben Director laid a huge hit on an Islander defender, picked up the loose ball and scored one-on-one on Barrios. It would be the final goal of the evening, as the Issaquah defense shut down the Islander offense for the entire fourth quarter. The Eagles played possession keep away from the Islanders for much of the remaining two minutes. Issaquah defeated Mercer Island 9-7, their first victory over the Islanders since 2009.
Players of the Game:
The Issaquah Defense- O’Neil Hughes & Brady Hahn, Eric Rauch, Kole Lindor & Austin Richert
Ben Director, Issaquah- 3 goals
Alex Robbs, Mercer Island- 4 goals
Photos by Sound Lacrosse
Issaquah Goalie O’Neil Hughes Post Game Comments