PUYALLUP — Colin Rigby was a player when Mercer Island lost in the boys soccer championship game in 2001. He was an assistant for the Islanders in 2012 when they placed second yet again.
Now the head coach, Rigby will get a chance to lead Mercer Island to its first state title in program history after a 2-0 semifinal win over Sunnyside at Sparks Stadium.
“It’s a taste that I want to get out of my mouth; I want victory,” Rigby said. “I’m excited for the state final. It’s a really exciting time for the boys. They get excited. Mercer Island as a community gets really excited.
“We’re excited to be there, we’re ready to get rid of the past and we’re ready for something new.”
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Mercer Island faces Lakeside for the state title Saturday at 2 p.m., while Sunnyside will play Shorewood for third place at 10 a.m.
Mercer Island was in control throughout the semifinal matchup, pressing Sunnyside’s defense, but coming away from the first half without a goal for the first time in the state playoffs.
The Islanders finally broke through in the 57th minute as Sean Bender’s throw-in 5 yards from the left corner flag found Ryan Hill in the box. The senior found the back of the net with his header to give Mercer Island a 1-0 lead.
The Islanders tacked on another goal in the 74th minute as Ryan Hill finished his 22nd of the season off an assist from Daniel Sims.
Mercer Island has now scored 12 goals during the state playoffs, while a stout back line and keepers Tate Crenshaw and Matt LeProwse have yet to concede.
“Our school has a lot of history behind it, so does the soccer program, we’ve never won a championship,” Hill said. “This year we’re nothing but confident.”
Lakeside advances in shootout
Lakeside keeper Wallis Lapsley made two huge saves in a penalty shootout to propel the Lions to the state title game with a thrilling 2-1 overtime shootout win over Shorewood.
The Lions will face Mercer Island in the championship game Saturday at 2 p.m., while Shorewood will play Sunnyside for third place.
“We did enough, is sort of how I look at it,” said Lakeside coach Mark Szabo, who admitted Shorewood played better in many aspects of the game. “We weren’t stellar by any means and we just did enough to hold on and to battle them, and then we had a break in the end where our goalie is going to save one or two of those kicks. And there it is.”
Lakeside opened the scoring in the 10th minute when Gaby Joseph was fouled in the box. Arthur McCray finished the penalty kick to give the Lions a short-lived lead. Anthony Pepe answered with a penalty kick two minutes later to even the score, 1-1.