With all the cheers and smiles generated on the Issaquah girls’ lacrosse sideline Saturday afternoon at Eastside Catholic’s Charlie Acosta Stadium, it was hard to tell the Eagles had just dropped their Division II state championship match, 14-8, to Mercer Island.
But for the second-year program, reaching the title game was an achievement thought unfathomable a year ago.
“To go from two wins, to 14-3 now, that’s not too shabby,” head coach Justin Waagbo said, smiling.
For many of the returning players, a run at state was only mentioned tongue-in-cheek.
“Last year we were like, ‘Oh we’re going to make it to state next year,’ as a joke, and now we’re here, so we were pretty excited about that,” midfielder Meaghan Stratford said.
Issaquah struggled early in Saturday’s contest, falling behind 5-1 at halftime. Mercer Island ripped 18 first-half shots on net, to 11 from Issaquah. Eagle goalkeeper Teagan Cameron did a solid job behind the net, blocking 10 Islander attempts.
Luck wasn’t on the side of Issaquah offensively, however, as shots continued to just miss wide, and clank off the post. It wasn’t until Katie Mincin’s unassisted goal in the final minute of the half, that the Eagles got on the board.
“We got some tough breaks, three posts in the first half, that hurt,” Waagbo said.
Mercer Island increased its lead to 11-2 in the 35th minute, behind the energy of Loreal Camp, who tacked on two more of her game-high five goals.
Issaquah wasn’t done, however. The Eagles’ offense, which struggled the first 35 minutes, suddenly caught fire. Ashley Walker’s unassisted goal in the 36th minute, started a 5-0 Eagle run. Goals from Sidney Lee, Brittany Hogan, and two from Mincin closed the gap to 11-7 in a span of just four minutes.
“I’m glad they stepped it up a little bit,” Waagbo said.
Mercer Island put a halt to Issaquah’s hopes for a comeback, however, when Sarah Drucker and Camp combined for three goals in two minutes.
Issaquah was led in scoring by Mincin’s three goals. Hogan added two goals, along with seven groundballs, and Stratford had two goals.
The Eagles return all but one player to next year’s team. There is a lot of anticipation with another talented group moving up.
“There will be a bunch of eighth graders coming next year,” attackman Sophie Schiefelbein said.
While the excitement for next season builds, one thing is for certain — the Eagles will savor the success of this season.
“Second place is so much better than second to last,” Stratford said.