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Islanders cruise past Bonnie Lake in first round of state playoffs

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There was no boisterous celebration following the Mercer Island Islanders convincing 2-0 victory against the Bonney Lake Panthers in the first round of the Class 3A state playoffs on Nov. 6.

The Islanders, who won the Class 3A state championship during the 2017 season, are determined to hoist a state championship trophy at Sparks Stadium for the second consecutive season.

“It is not like were jumping for joy or anything. We got a mission and that mission is to get back to Sparks Stadium (site of the Class 3A state semifinals and finals),” Mercer Island head coach James Valles said. “Until we get there, it is going to be business as usual and just another game and another opponent.”

Mercer Island senior Elaina Martin scored the first goal of the game in the 23rd minute, giving the Islanders a 1-0 lead. Mercer Island defender Ashley Rudd connected on a free kick from 25 yards out, putting the ball on the ground into the lower left corner of the goal in the 26th minute, lengthening the lead to 2-0.

Mercer Island keeper Amy Braman, who had a difficult save on a Bonney Lake shot attempt in the 72nd minute, was thrilled to see Rudd score the proverbial insurance goal in the 26th minute.

“I was so happy that went in because I saw it go through the wall,” Braman said of watching the goal being scored from nearly 90 yards away. “I’m so glad it went in because I like to win.” 

The Islanders will host Prairie at 3 p.m. on Nov. 10 in the Class 3A state quarterfinals. Braman believes her team will rise to the occasion in the quarterfinal matchup.

“I’m just hoping we don’t underestimate any team because every team deserves to be here. We have a lot of confidence because we know we’re good and we deserve to be here,” Braman said.

Permission and credit:  Shaun Scott (November 7, 2018) Mercer Island pitches shutout against Bonnie Lake. Mercer Islander Reporter.  Photo credit:  Patrick Krohn/Patrick Krohn Photography.

2018 3A KingCo All League Awards

Congratulations MI Girls Soccer Varsity!

Congratulations to MIHS Varsity for another outstanding year! Varsity was undefeated in 2018 KingCo 3A/2A League play with a record of 12-0-0. Varsity made it through to Quarter Finals in the 3A State Cup Championship. Overall record for 2018 season is 17-1-1.

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Islanders Earn Victory Against Wolverines in Rivalry Matchup

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The Mercer Island Islanders girls soccer team captured a 1-0 victory against the Bellevue Wolverines on Oct. 25 in the regular season finale for both squads. Jackie Stenberg (pictured) scored the lone goal of the game between rival schools. The Islanders finished the 2018 regular season with an overall record of 15-0-1.

Permission and credit:  Shaun Scott (October 27, 2018) Islanders earn victory against Wolverines in rivalry matchup. Mercer Islander Reporter.  Photo credit:  Stephanie Ault Justus.

Islanders Attain Comeback Triumph

Mercer Island senior midfielder Emily Arron, left, puts pressure on Liberty defender Cameron Nelson, right, in a matchup featuring two of the top soccer programs in the 3A/2A KingCo Division. Mercer Island earned a 2-1 comeback victory on Sept. 25 on Mercer Island. Photo courtesy of Patrick Krohn/Patrick Krohn Photography

Mercer Island senior midfielder Emily Arron, left, puts pressure on Liberty defender Cameron Nelson, right, in a matchup featuring two of the top soccer programs in the 3A/2A KingCo Division. Mercer Island earned a 2-1 comeback victory on Sept. 25 on Mercer Island. Photo courtesy of Patrick Krohn/Patrick Krohn Photography

A showdown of epic proportions was on display as the Mercer Island Islanders and Liberty Patriots faced off on the soccer field.

Liberty, who won the Class 2A state title in 2017 and Mercer Island, who earned the Class 3A state championship in 2017, lived up to the pregame hype. The Islanders rose to the occasion in front of their hometown fans, earning a dramatic 2-1 comeback victory against the Patriots on Sept. 25 on Mercer Island. The Islanders improved their overall record to 5-0-1 with the win while Liberty dropped to 4-1-2. Mercer Island is in sole possession of first place in the 3A/2A KingCo division.

With the score tied at 1-1 with less than a minute left in regulation, Islanders senior forward Nicole Mandt connected on the game-winning goal, completing the comeback win. Mandt maneuvered past two Liberty defenders before uncorking a shot that found the lower left part of the back of the goal. Mercer Island sophomore defender Emily Yang had the assist on the play.

“We came into this game really nervous, to be honest. Liberty is a super good team and is probably the toughest team we’ve played all season. We came into the game knowing we had to be confident no matter what, no matter how nervous we were. It paid off,” Mandt explained. “We had a positive mindset and we knew we could do it.”

Liberty took an early 1-0 lead on a Myka Carr goal in the 55th minute of play. Mercer Island senior Elaina Martin tied the game at 1-1 in the 65th minute. Mercer Island head coach James Valles wasn’t surprised to see two of his seniors (Martin and Mandt) come through in the clutch with the outcome of the game hanging in the balance.

“Those players have been playing on this team for a long time. This is their last year and they don’t get rattled in big games,” Valles said.

Valles believes the victory against a formidable Liberty squad will give his team an abundance of confidence as they move toward the second half of the 2018 season on the pitch.

“This was huge. Being in first place in the middle of the season isn’t great but it gives us that much more of a separation from the next 3A team (in their league). I think the other 3A teams were looking at this match and were saying, ‘If they get beat by Liberty, we’ve got a chance.’ Now they know we are who they thought we were,” Valles said proudly.

Mercer Island senior Ella Hensey, left, battles with Liberty defender Kelsey Le, right, for possession of a 50/50 in the air. Photo courtesy of Patrick Krohn/Patrick Krohn Photography

Mercer Island senior Ella Hensey, left, battles with Liberty defender Kelsey Le, right, for possession of a 50/50 in the air. Photo courtesy of Patrick Krohn/Patrick Krohn Photography

Permission and credit:  Shaun Scott (September 27, 2018) Islanders attain comeback triumph. Mercer Islander Reporter.  Photo credit:  Don Born/Stop Action Photography. View Article

Goal Celebration in Mercer Island Win

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Mercer Island senior captain Jackie Stenberg, left, celebrates scoring in regular time while senior Jackie Gilroy joins her during the Islanders’ 2-1 overtime girls soccer victory over Lake Washington on Sept. 20. Photo Courtesy of Dale Garvey and Mercer Island Reporter.

State Champs Looking to Defend Their Title

The Mercer Island Islanders girls soccer team won the Class 3A state championship in November of 2017. It was the first state title in school history for the team. Photo courtesy of Don Borin/Stop Action Photography

The Mercer Island Islanders girls soccer team won the Class 3A state championship in November of 2017. It was the first state title in school history for the team. Photo courtesy of Don Borin/Stop Action Photography

The 2017 high school soccer season was unforgettable for all the right reasons for the Mercer Island community.

The Islanders varsity girls soccer team registered a 4-1 victory against the Stadium Tigers in the Class 3A state title game on Nov. 18, 2017 at Sparks Stadium in Puyallup. It was the first state championship in the history of the high school girls soccer program.

Mercer Island girls soccer head coach James Valles, who will be in his second season leading the Islanders this fall, reminisces about last year’s title as often as possible.

“Lets just say I try to work state championship into all of my conversations, even in my day job I try to work that in there,” Valles said with a chuckle.

The Islanders return all but two of their players from the 2017 varsity roster. Key players Jessie Stenberg and Kendall Riley graduated this past June. Valles said his squad is focused on winning back-to-back state crowns.

“I think the pressure is on. They want to repeat. They don’t want to sit or rest on their laurels. If you look at our schedule, we play Skyline, Issaquah, Newport and Eastlake (nonleague games). The only way you can get better is to challenge yourself every week. When state (tournament) comes around, hopefully we’ll be ready,” Valles said.

Valles marveled about the talent level of his roster before conducting an evening practice session on Aug. 24.

“It is pretty incredible I would have to say. This isn’t normal, this is far from normal, I will take it,” Valles said with a smile. “We have four senior captains this year and they’ve really stepped up and have done captains’ kind of work. We have 20 incoming freshmen to the program and they’ve done a really great job of making everybody feel part of the program.”

The Islanders’ four team captains are Emily Arron, Jackie Stenberg, Gretchen Blohm and Abby Berman. The Islanders’ state championship in November of 2017 wasn’t just for the soccer program, it was for the entire Mercer Island community and all of the players who came before them.

“Since it was our first one (girls state soccer championship), it was pretty special. We had great attendance at our games. That is what is great about Mercer Island is that the community gives us such great support. It really meant something to people on the island. You are playing for more than yourself,” Valles said of his team.

Permission and credit:  Shaun Scott (August 31, 2018) State Champs are looking to defend their title. Mercer Islander Reporter.  Photo credit:  Don Born/Stop Action Photography. View Article

First Annual MIHS Girls Soccer Alumni Match

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We had our first annual alumni match on Sunday, July 22, 2018 at the MIHS Stadium field.  Eleven MIHS Girls Soccer Alumni joined our current players for a friendly.  Thank you to Molly Fort who coordinated the event and thank you to all the participants.

Molly Fort ('89)
Kim Lengle ('94)
Erin Bourguignon ('10)
Lauren Frank ('11)
Celina Solomon ('12)
Kieran Dornay ('13)
Natalie Weaver ('14)
Katie Rorem ('14)
Silvie Dornay ('15)
Mira Dornay ('17)
Olivia Morris ('18)

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2017 End of Season Awards

Congratulations to all the Mercer Island High School Girls Soccer Athletes! 

This has been an amazing year of hard work, determination and success!  We welcomed new Head Coach James Valles, JV Coach Celeste Stoup and JVC Coach Natalie Weaver to the MIHS Soccer program.  Varsity won the Washington State 3A Title for the first time in MIHS history.  In addition, Varsity won the KingCo 3A Tournament Championship.

At our End of Season Celebration we recognized the following athletes for their exceptional contributions to each team.

Varsity:
Offensive Player of the Year:     Jessie Stenberg
Defensive Player of the Year:    Gretchen Blohm
Most Valuable Player:                Kendall Riley
Newcomer Award:                     Amy Braman
Captains Award:                        Sarah Gest

JV:
Offensive Player of the Year:   Hannah Bartley
Defensive Player of the Year:   Lucy Cleator
Most Valuable Player:               Annelise Rorem
Newcomer Award:                    Makena French

JVC:
Offensive Player of the Year:    Maddy Pfeiffer
Defensive Player of the Year:   Joy Francke
Most Valuable Player :              Ellie Gelsey
Newcomer of the Year:             Tess Johnston


KingCo All-League Team Honors

Each year all the KingCo Coaches meet and select athletes from each team to be recognized for outstanding performance.  Congratulations!

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2017 WIAA 3A State Girls Soccer Tournament Results

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Mercer Island Earns First-Ever Girls State Soccer Championship

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Oftentimes in the world of high school sports, championship games come down to a bounce here, a big play there and aren’t decided until the closing minutes or seconds of regulation.

The Mercer Island girls soccer team didn’t have to worry about the outcome of their Class 3A state championship matchup coming down to the wire. Mercer Island dominated all phases of the game en route to a 4-1 win against the Stadium Tigers on Nov. 18 at Sparks Stadium in Puyallup. It was the first state title in the history of the Mercer Island girls soccer program.

Islanders’ senior forward Jessie Stenberg scored a game-high three goals in the final game of her high school career with everything on the line.

“It is an unbelievable feeling. I’m just so excited. I couldn’t be happier. This is an amazing experience. I’m going to be happy for weeks, months and years to come,” Stenberg said with a smile after the game.

The Islanders knew the Tigers had an undefeated record coming into the game, but weren’t intimidated in the least bit.

“We knew they were 18-0 and hadn’t lost yet. We knew we had to play like us and do what we know how to do to just put it (title) away,” Stenberg said.

Islanders’ senior midfielder Kendall Riley said the 2017 season couldn’t have gone better.

“We didn’t really think we were going to get here (state title game) this season, but when we got here we were like, we worked so hard for this game. We’re going to dominate it and win this state championship. We did it,” Riley said.

Mercer Island head coach James Valles, who was in his first season leading the Islanders’ soccer program, said there wasn’t any special game plan in store for Stadium before the game kicked off.

“We didn’t really talk about what to do to break down Stadium or anything. It was like you know what to do, you have done it all season. Just go out and do what you do. They (Stadium) should be afraid of us and that is how we played and that was the result,” Valles said. “We have one of the hardest leagues (KingCo) in our state so every game is a game. The key was being composed and they’ve done it all season.”

Valles credited his players for their dedication during the 2017 season, which culminated in a state title.

“It is all about them. It is just heart, grit, soul and leaving it all on the field. As a coach, I just knew these players were going to step up. That is something you can’t coach,” he said. “To see those looks on their faces, I’d do this (coach) for free. To leave that legacy as the first time (state champs), that is awesome for them.”

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Permission and credit:  Shaun Scott (November 22, 2017) Mercer Island earns first-ever girls state soccer championship. Mercer Islander Reporter.  Photo credit:  Don Born/Stop Action Photography. View Article

Eli Sports Network Picks 3A State Soccer All-Tournament Teams

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Here are the ESN selections for All-Tournament teams 4A through 1A. We did not think it was fair to simply guess and look at stats to try and come up with a team. The teams we selected were derived from a combination of our crews, all of them unbiased and remember based only on the 2 games we watched.

These honors are not intended to degrade anyone’s performance but rather to celebrate performances that stuck out to us. We also tried to get pictures of everyone but some of our crews were short handed and we scrambled to get a few pictures, we apologize we did not get good ones of everyone. We named 1 MVP and 11 1st team starters and that is it, so with that all being said…here are our selections and congratulations to all!

Excerpts specific to Mercer Island featured below.

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Credit:  Staff of Eli Sports Network (November 22, 2017) State Soccer All-Tournament Teams: 4A-1A. Eli Sports NetworkPhoto credit:  Staff of Eli Sports Network. View Article

MIHS Varsity Wins 2017 Washington State 3A Championship

Photo credit: Susie Stenberg

Photo credit: Susie Stenberg

Mercer Island hands 4-1 loss to Stadium for Washington State 3A Title

Great article by Matt Massey, special for The Seattle Times.  September 18, 2017

Excerpts:

Jessie Stenberg supplied a hat trick as Mercer Island dominated previously undefeated Stadium of Tacoma 4-1 to give the Islanders’ program a breakthrough moment in the Class 3A state-championship match on Saturday at Sparks Stadium.

For the Islanders (16-1-3), it was all about bringing effort from the start, allowing them to finish the season on top under first-year coach James Valles.

 “You have those leaders on your team, like Kendall Riley and Jessie, who were an example to the whole team,” Valles said. “When you get to this point, it’s all about them playing. All my work is done. It’s just heart, grit, soul and just leaving it out on the field."

The Islanders went on top 1-0 in the 15th minute when Stenberg finished off a bouncing ball directly in front of the Stadium goal mouth. Stenberg tapped the ball in from inches away after the free kick from MI’s Kendall Riley glanced off teammate Jackie Gilroy and to the feet of Stenberg, who was in a crowd.

Stenberg made it 2-0 by converting a corner kick from Emily Arron in the 23rd minute, but Stadium (19-1) answered with an 18-yard strike by Ella Nadeau less than a minute later in the 24th minute.

The Islanders’ lead went to 3-1 when Emily Arron fired a 32-yard shot that skipped off the head of Stadium’s Kayla Fraser and into the left corner of the net in the 30th minute.

Stenberg made it 4-1 with a rebound shot at the right post in the 75th minute after Emily Arron’s shot bounced off Stadium goalkeeper Katherine Nelson.


Mercer Island Outplayed Stadium for State 3A Title

Excerpts of note from article by TJ Cotterill, The New Tribune (Tacoma) November 18, 2017

“They are definitely a more aggressive, fast team than we’ve played,” Becker [Stadium's head coach] said. “They had a better idea of what they were doing. And when they did it, they did it. The difference was they beat us to every ball… "

And Mercer Island coach James Valles seemed to have the right combination to finally slow [Makenzie] Burks, who finished her junior season with 27 goals [and was TNT All-Area player of the year].

“Keep her on her right foot,” Valles said. “Don’t let her go left. She’s always going to try to go by you and then go left. Don’t bite. Just stay in front of her. And my two defensive mids [Kendall Riley and Jackie Stenberg] controlled the midfield I thought all day".

The Islanders (16-1-3) seemed to attack from all angles, getting 16 shots to Stadium’s nine.

Valles said his team didn’t have any nerves facing undefeated Stadium because Mercer Island had been battle tested.

“I’m not going to lie, I looked at (Stadium’s) record and they’re winning some games 10-0 (They beat Lincoln 10-0, then 13-0, Mount Tahoma 11-0 and Spanaway Lake 9-0). Even if you’re super good that doesn’t do you any good,” Valles said. “It just inflates stats. Us having some games [with great teams like Liberty, Bellevue, Redmond], we were prepared.”


Kamiakin can't slow Mercer Island attack, falls 4-2 in State Semi Finals

Nice article with video clips by Dustin Brennan of the Tri-City Harold.  September 17, 2017

Excerpts:

In scattered showers iconic of the tournament host’s region, the Kamiakin High School girls soccer team couldn’t stop a downpour of Mercer Island goals on Friday at Sparks Stadium in Puyallup. The result was a 4-2 defeat at the hands of the Islanders in their 3A state semifinal match in a game that featured a few firsts for the Braves; mainly, their first loss.

The Islanders (14-1-3) turned the first half into a stalemate when, in the 28th, Kendall Riley collected a rebound off a save by Wilbur and fired on an open net following a corner kick for a 1-all tie.

MI opened up its lead in the second half when Jackie Gilroy volleyed in an Emily Aaron cross in the 51st, and Elaina Martin scored with an assist from Gilroy in the 56th for a 3-1 game.

Mercer Island was able to put the game away with an insurance goal by Jessie Stenberg in the 76th for its final 4-2 lead.

Islanders Register Monumental Victory in State Playoff Game

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Mercer Island senior midfielder Kendall Riley blocked out all the noise and was completely focused before completing one of the most memorable plays of her high school soccer career.

With less than three minutes left in regulation, the Mercer Island Islanders and Bethel Braves girls soccer teams were tied at 2-2 with a berth in the Class 3A quarterfinals hanging in the balance. Riley, who had a direct free kick from about 30 yards away from the goal on the left side of the field, studied Bethel keeper Isabelle Romero before unleashing a long range shot.

“I saw her go back post (right post) and I just knew that I couldn’t go back post. I tried to aim towards the middle,” Riley said.

Riley’s line drive shot sailed through the air before caroming off the inside of the left post and into the back of the net, giving the Islanders a 3-2 lead they wouldn’t relinquish the rest of the way. Mercer Island’s defense fended off Bethel in the final two minutes, preserving a 3-2 victory in the first round of the Class 3A state playoffs on Nov. 7 at Mercer Island High School.

Riley said it’s the first time the Islanders girls soccer program has advanced to the state quarterfinals since 2009.

“This is a big deal. We’re all really excited,” Riley said.

Mercer Island head coach James Valles wasn’t surprised to see Riley hit the game-winner.

“It was very clutch. She has been a pretty spectacular player all season. She has scored some timely goals just like that. She is always dangerous in those set pieces,” Valles said. “That was one for the ages. I think we’re all pretty darn happy with that one.”

Mercer Island junior forward Elaina Martin scored in the sixth minute of play, giving the Islanders a 1-0 lead. Bethel scored in the 18th minute tying the game at 1-1. Just before halftime Islanders senior midfielder Jessie Stenberg recorded a goal, giving the Islanders a 2-1 lead at halftime.

Permission and credit:  Shaun Scott (November 7, 2017) Islanders register monumental victory in state playoff game. Mercer Islander Reporter.  Photo credit:  Don Born/Stop Action Photography. 

Islanders Clinch Berth at 3A State Tournament - Mercer Island Reporter

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The Mercer Island Islanders earned a 3-0 win against the Redmond Mustangs in the Class 3A KingCo championship game on October 31st at MIHS.  The victory in the KingCo 3A title game clinched the Islanders a berth in the Class 3A state tournament.  Mercer Islander midfielder Jessie Stenberg scored two goals in the win.   Islanders' junior midfielder Jackie Gilroy scored the first goal of the game.

Follow the bracket schedule and results via KingCo's 2017 WIAA 3A State Girls Soccer Tournament.

Permission and credit:  Mercer Island Reporter Staff (November 1, 2017) Islander girls soccer clinch berth at Class 3A state tournament. Mercer Islander Reporter.  Photo credit:  Don Born/Stop Action Photography.    View full article.

Varsity Wins 2017 KingCo 3A Tournament

Mercer Island Varsity - 2017 KingCo 3A Champions

Mercer Island Varsity - 2017 KingCo 3A Champions

Grit and determination win the 2017 KingCo Tournament for MIHS!    MIHS Varsity won 3-0 over Redmond.

Goal #1:  Jessie Stenberg crosses the ball to Nicole Mandt who side heels to Jackie Gilroy for the goal.

Goal #2: Jessie Stenberg fights off the defender, gets dragged down and toes it [into the goal] while falling.

Goal #3: Jessie Stenberg going for a [team] hat trick with another lovely ball right past the keeper.

Source:  MIHS Girls Soccer Twitter c/o Dan Riley.  Photo Credit: Susie Stenberg.

Islanders Lead KingCo 3A/2A - Mercer Island Reporter

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The Mercer Island Islanders girls soccer team captured a 2-0 win against the Interlake Saints on Oct. 17. The Islanders have an overall record of 10-1-1 and are in first place in the KingCo 3A/2A division. Liberty is in second place with a record of 9-2-1. Mercer Island player Kendall Riley (pictured) gains control of the ball in a game against the Sammamish Totems on Oct. 10.

Permission and Credit: Mercer Island Reporter Staff (October 18, 2017) Islanders are in first place in the KingCo 3A/2A division.  Mercer Island ReporterView Full Article.  Photo Credit:  Rick Edelman/Rick Edelman Photography.

Islanders Back on Track - Interviews with Nicole Mandt and Coach James Valles

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The Mercer Island girls soccer team couldn’t wait to get back on the field after suffering their first loss of the 2017 season.

The Islanders, who lost 2-1 to the Redmond Mustangs on Sept. 28, got back into the win column just five days later, courtesy of a convincing 5-1 victory against the Lake Washington Kangaroos on Oct. 3 at Mercer Island High School. Mercer Island improved their overall record to 7-1 while Lake Washington dropped to 6-3 overall.

Mercer Island junior forward Nicole Mandt scored a team high two goals (45th minute, 60th minute) in the win. Mandt’s goal in the 45th minute was a spectacular run that consisted of making multiple Kangaroos players miss before uncorking a shot, which found the back of the net.

The Islanders leading scorer of the game was thrilled to see her team rebound after its setback last week against the Mustangs.

“It is really exciting because we had a tough loss to Redmond,” Mandt said. “We just came into this game thinking we’re No. 1 and we got to keep it. We had to try to come into the game with the same mindset we had in games against Liberty (3-0 win) and Bellevue (2-0 win), which were tougher games. We wanted to prove to other teams who didn’t think we would be as good this year that we still are.”

Mercer Island players Elaina Martin (26th minute), Jackie Gilroy (78th minute) and Kendall Riley (79th minute) each scored a goal apiece in the win.

Mercer Island first-year head coach James Valles wasn’t surprised his team dominated against Lake Washington.

“Emotionally, its a big lift for us,” Valles said. “I thought Redmond played us really well and they did the right things to beat us. We talked about adjusting our tactics. Sometimes you can say that, but it doesn’t always happen, but I thought tonight we really adjusted. We had balanced scoring and we almost had a clean sheet (shutout). We played as a team. Going into the second half of the season that is what we really need to do. We brought the energy and these girls work really hard, they listen and you can tell they are having a good time. They are clicking on all cylinders. I’m pretty happy.”

Permission and Credit: Shaun Scott (October 4, 2017) Mercer Islander soccer team gets back on track. Mercer Island Reporter. View full article.  Photo Credit: Rick Edelman/Rick Edelman Photography.