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Issaquah vs. Mercer Island - Game Recap

The Mercer Island Islanders (6-1) overcome a first half deficit with their continuously effective zone defense in their 11-6 win against the Issaquah Eagles (2-4) on Friday night at Mercer Island High School.

The Eagles owned the first half of this game with a hat-trick from senior attackman Cam Huhta and a pair of accurate shots from the dirt to sit on top 5-3. The beginning of the end for Issaquah came on a slashing penalty on Huhta to end the first half that would spark the Islanders to a 7-goal run spanning into the fourth quarter effectively stealing the game 11-6.

Mercer Island sophomore midfielder Donnie Howard led his team in goals with three for his second game straight as he is quickly becoming a bi-product of this teams growth this season. Senior midfielder Mitchell Mandt played a key role in their victory with two goals and three assists in their 7-goal run in the second half.

Huhta was the Islander’s biggest issue in the first half as every one of his shots seemed to go right through them. He brought in three goals for his team but was covered hard all game effectively silencing him in the final half.

The game started out as expected with the Mercer Island zone defense testing out their opponent’s ability to shoot on the outside. Issaquah played patiently on the edge trusting their ability to shoot from the dirt when senior midfielder James Rauch snuck the ball right past Islander sophomore goalie Tynan Drayton for the first goal of the game.

One goal was nothing to sweat about but Huhta squeezed two more into the cage from the outside shortly after securing a 3-0 lead causing a stir in the Islander defense by the end of the first quarter. Both teams would trade two more goals in the second but the Islanders were feeling a little uneasy with how prepared the Eagles were for their zone setup.

Huhta’s slashing penalty came in the final six seconds giving the Islanders a man-up opportunity to start the final half. The Islanders came out hot when Howard began their 7-goal run with a sweeping shot in front of the cage before the field was even. Mandt participated in four goals on this run with two goals and two assists demonstrating a remarkable counter to the Eagle’s game plan.

Issaquah was confronted with a noticeably more aggressive zone defense in the second half, as every one of their players with possession was challenged on every angle. The Islanders were securing possession of the ball at a faster pace contributing to their offensive success. The Eagles would only score a single goal in the final half that came on a two-man up situation before Mercer Island iced them on a pair of goals near the end to seal the game 11-6.

The Eagles put themselves in a better position than either Woodinville or Bellevue with their two goal lead in the first half. The moment the Islanders players amped up the energy they were able to disrupt Issaquah’s momentum significantly.

Issaquah moves to 2-4 as they prepare to host Lake Washington (0-6) Tuesday night. Mercer Island will head to Bothell (1-5) Tuesday where they have a chance of jumping to number one in the 3A KingCo conference before they wrap up the season.

Story by Michael Thornbloom

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