The Islanders drive to win a Washington State Water Polo Championship ended on the final day of the State Tournament. The Maroon Squad entered the tournament as the number-one seed but fell to the Curtis Vikings in the semi-finals 11-7.
Bellevue went on to beat Curtis in the finals, to claim the State Championship for the second year in a row.
Mercer Island and the Vikings had met earlier this fall at the Oregon Tualatin Hills Tournament. The Islanders came out on top of that clash, 7-4. However on this occasion, the Vikings were pumped for a win in front of a home crowd at their brand new pool, the site of this year’s State Championship tournament.
The Islanders were caught flat-footed as the Vikings jumped to a 6-0 lead in the first half, scoring 3 in each quarter. This score was almost a complete reversal of their September game where MIHS led 6-1 in the opening half. The Islanders were shooting but Curtis’ All-State senior goalie, Griffin Collins, proved formidable, blocking 4 shots in the first quarter. In the second quarter Curtis was able to capitalize on two man-ups to score and the Islanders had 6 more shots blocked.
The Islanders did not get on the board until Topher LeCrampe lobbed a shot with 4:16 remaining in the 3rd quarter. With 3:15 remaining, the Vikings lead had built to 9-1 and the Islanders dream was fading. But, the Islanders rallied and began to connect with the net, closing the gap to within 4 goals, down 10-6 at the end of the 3rd. Goalie Matt LeProwse was able to steal the ball in the opening seconds of the 4th, leading to a goal by Sam Peterson. The momentum dramatically shifted and all of a sudden it looked like the impossible could occur as the Islanders were down 10-7 with 6:30 remaining in the 4th. Curtis, though, proved stubborn and used the clock to their advantage to grind out the minutes. The Islanders were able to get off 6 shots in the 4th but 2 barred out and 3 were blocked leading to a final score of 11-7 with Mercer Island coming up short.
The Islanders path to the semis included victories over Bainbridge 26-6, Puyallup 11-4 and Auburn-Riverside 14-10. The Islanders ended the tournament with a loss to Newport in the 3rd/4th place playoff game 9-8. The Islanders had beaten the Knights in their two previous regular season games. However, Newport All-State player, Lee Griffin, was the story in this game. Griffin scored 5 of Newport’s 6 first half goals. The Islanders were able to contain Griffin to 1 goal in the second half but it was too late. The game was tied at 8 all with under a minute left in the 4th when Newport scored and the Islanders were unable to get another shot off.
In addition to the 4th place finish, 3 Islanders were named to the All-State teams. Sam Peterson, 1st team, David Rudokas, 2nd team, Connor Gullstad, Honorable Mention.
"I am really proud of the way these guys came together as a team. They had the desire and work-ethic and team play," said MIHS Boys Water Polo Coach Erik Grosshans. "They became a defensive powerhouse. They showed themselves worthy of a top-four finish at state."
- Mercer Island
- Auburn Riverside
- Auburn Mountainview