Update, 6 p.m.: The location of the Islanders' Monday night match-up with Bellevue has been moved. The new location of the top-tier Oct. 1 duel will be held at the Weyerhauser King County Aquatic Center, 650 Southwest Campus Drive in Federal Way.
Mercer Island boys water polo was also named No.1 in a newly-released poll on Thursday of prep teams in the state by Washington State High School Water Polo Rankings, a website that reports exclusively on state prep water polo. Bellevue is ranked No. 2.
Original Story: The Islanders are looking forward to a state water polo clash of the titans against Bellevue next Monday after defeating Newport in a league match-up on Wednesday and making the most of an out-of-state tournament in Oregon last weekend.
The Mercer Island boys water polo team (10-1) drove south to Beaverton, OR last weekend expecting to be competitive in the annual Tualatin Hills Invitational tournament and did not disappoint. MIHS Water Polo entered the tournament with the confidence created by an undefeated start to the regular season.
The 4-0 Islanders have rolled over North League opponents Rain City, Roosevelt, Inglemoor and Bainbridge Island but they knew the Oregon teams represented a bigger challenge. However, MI showcased their much improved skills during the tournament by dispatching Oregon teams Lincoln and Reynolds as well as Washington State South League leader Curtis along the way. The Islanders qualified after 5 intense games for the championship contest against 2011 Oregon State Champs, Southridge.
The Tualatin tournament performance was buoyed by the return of Senior Sam Peterson who was plagued by a back injury most of last season and a broken finger at the start of this season. A fully healthy Peterson was able to lead the Islanders in offensive output scoring 19 goals over the 6 games played. On the defensive end, freshman goalie Matt LeProwse proved he is a fearless keeper blocking a total of 35 goals. Brothers Connor (16 steals) and Trevor Gullstad (9 steals) relentlessly tormented ball handlers for their combined 25 steals. In addition to the return of key starters, Sebastian "Seabass" Aron, Topher Le Crampe and David Rudokas, the Islanders have a very deep bench and were able to utilize that to their advantage.
While the Islanders ultimately fell to senior-loaded Southridge 8-12 coach Erik Grosshans said,” I think that Oregon has been a great experience for the boys being able to play teams out of the area that they are not as familiar with. More of these teams here play year-round; there is a high level of water polo.” When asked what lessons were learned from the tournament, Grosshans replied, “Understanding that traveling out of the state will make us better. It’s been great to get in 6 games in 3 days. We played more games this weekend than we have in the first part of the season …I think it’s great, the boys have learned a lot and it gets us closer to the goal of becoming a better team.”
On Wednesday, the Islanders defeated Newport 10-4 with three goals by Sam Peterson and 10 blocks by MI 'keeper Matt LeProwse.
This coming Monday, Oct. 1, Mercer Island will face currently undefeated state title-holders Bellevue at Woodridge Swim Club in Bellevue, located at 12320 SE 14th Street in Bellevue.