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The MIHS Islander

The Student News Site of Mercer Island High School

The MIHS Islander

The Student News Site of Mercer Island High School

The MIHS Islander

2023 Spring Sports Preview

Photo+courtesy+Rachel+Garton
Rachel Garton
Photo courtesy Rachel Garton

As we prepare to begin our roll into spring, all of the MIHS spring sports teams are gearing up for the start of their seasons. Last season, many spring sports teams were remarkably successful, with many bringing home State titles. Sports team member Jordan Balousek spoke to members of each of the 12 sports teams. 

 

Unified Soccer

This year’s Unified Soccer team is aiming to improve upon last season’s results after last year’s COVID-19 restrictions made play more difficult. “I think everyone is very optimistic and looking forward to this year,” student leader Wyatt Acker said. “Our team this year is in the second and more competitive division meaning that we are expecting to be a solid and competitive team.” Acker says that luckily there was only one graduating athlete last year, so the team remained largely the same. “With Ben, Gavin, Aaron, Jeremy and Landon we have some speed that we haven’t had in the past. Of course some of the players are a little hotheaded so we look to not get in trouble with any refs, parents, or other teams players this year.” Acker says that this speed will hopefully help the team achieve some of their goals. “This year my goal is to win 4-to-5 games. This season is about getting all of the younger guys like Gavin and Jeremy involved and building around them as well as getting them ready for their next 3-4 years,” Acker said. “Last year we went 2-4 but everything was really against us with COVID-19 and athletes having other issues, to name a few examples. This year is where we [will] get back to winning and having fun.” The team’s sole home game this year will be Feb. 16, directly after school.

 

Girls Ultimate Frisbee

This year’s Girls Ultimate Frisbee team is finishing up their coed season, and will be having their playoffs during midwinter break. The team, however, will be combining with another team going into the girls season. “We are going to combine with the Eastside Gx team, with whom I got the chance to play during the fall offseason,” senior captain Shaadaan Burn said. “They are all wonderful people, and really talented frisbee players. I think it will be a lot of fun to play the last season of the year with them.” Burn sees a few strengths among the team that she believes will help them come away with some victories. “Our greatest strength is our teamwork and spirit,” Burn said. “All the players have an amazing dedication and love of the sport, which you can really see on the field.” 



Girls Tennis

This year’s Girls Tennis (MIGT) team is looking to repeat last year’s strong season, where they went undefeated and placed second at State. “All the girls had a great bond with one another, and we really excelled on the court,” senior captain Jaya Manhas said. Manhas noted that despite the loss of five seniors, the team has many newcomers that they are looking forward to playing with, and the team has been working throughout the off-season to prepare. Manhas believes that the team’s dedication and variety of talent will aid the team in being the strongest they can be. “One strength MIGT has is that we are really driven and passionate about tennis, and we are willing to put in the extra time if we need. Also because of the wide range of talent and different types of players we have, practicing with one another really pushes us to be the best players possible. I think this really shows in matches and we take great pride in that.” However, Manhas believes that the mental aspect of tennis is one that the team can always improve upon. “One thing MIGT can always work on is the mental aspect of tennis,” Manhas said. “I think finding more ways to implement mental drills and strategies during practices will allow us to be fully prepared for times of stress on the court.” Manhas also emphasized two dates that fans usually like to attend: Bellevue matches and Senior Night. “All the matches have a fun and competitive atmosphere,” Manhas said. “We would love for more fans to come this year!”

 

Boys Soccer

Last year’s Boys Soccer team won the State title, and hope to repeat their success this season. “To keep it short, last season was [historic], exciting, and finished off with a dream ending,” senior Jackson Barker said. He says that despite the pressure to repeat their previous success, the team is confident that their optimistic mentality will aid them this season. “Even with all the positivity within the program, there comes huge expectations,” Barker said. “I think a lot of the guys feel a sense of pressure to repeat how last season went, but it’s going to be important to just play for one another with a lot of intensity and heart. That worked out pretty well last season.” He hopes that this mentality will translate into success in a few areas. “I mainly hope that our squad works well together this year, and continue to develop the chemistry that is so crucial to our success,” Barker said. “Otherwise, we have a new head coach leading the program, so it is important to help make them feel like a part of our family.” Barker also emphasizes the strength of the players as a key factor of their potential success. “We have immense talent at every position, including the players coming off the bench,” Barker said. “Our main goal with improving the team is staying healthy. Last year we were fortunate enough to have virtually no injury problems, and we hope to continue that trend through our 2023 season.” While Barker says that the Bellevue matchups are crucial to come and watch, especially as Mercer Island was successful in posting a +8 goal differential the year before, there is another team he believes will provide interesting games. “I have to go with Liberty, they have returned and brought in a lot of attacking firepower and were a strong team last year,” Barker said. “So mark those games on your calendar, and come support the boys this season.”



Boys Lacrosse

The Boys Lacrosse team is looking to repeat their successful season after placing well in State last year, despite some influential team changes. “Last season, we placed second in the state, and we went 16-5,” junior Henry Dumler said. “We lost a lot of good players, especially on the defensive side, losing a majority of our starting defense.” However, Dumler expects the returning players to aid the team in keeping their State title hopes alive. “Our team’s offense is strong with a lot of starting players coming back from last season. We have three varsity players returning from last year, so we will need a younger guy to step up and fill the fourth spot on defense this year,” Dumler said. He specifically pointed out that there are lots of young players ready to take the next step up. The team’s goals this season will be to improve upon their already strong results from the previous year. “Our goal is to place first in State this year and to try and become a stronger team all around,” Dumler said. This year’s team will play a variety of opponents, some from out of state; they will play Lakeridge, from Oregon, on March 17, and Bellarmine Prep, from California, on March 31. Two important games against KingCo competitors take place on March 24, against Bellevue, and Senior Night vs Lake Washington, on May 5.



Girls Water Polo

The Girls Water Polo team are coming off a successful season where they placed fifth at State, and despite being happy with that result, are looking to continue building the strength of their team. “I feel like we grew so much last season as a team and we are so ready for this season,” senior captain Sammy Moeller said. Moeller identified a few areas that the team will be looking to improve upon. “This season, I am hoping our team can use communication and play to each other’s strengths. After losing our seniors, we are going to have to work hard to keep the intensity high,” Moeller said. “I think the team can improve on working together to create plays and more shooting opportunities.” While they will be working with those goals in mind in the pool, she also noted that the team has multiple strengths that will help the team succeed. “Our team has such a strong connection, since it is a smallish team we are super close and have such a great bond,” Moeller said. She also had a message as to what games will be best for fans to come and support: “Fans should definitely come to the Bellevue, Newport and Bainbridge games! [Those] are super fun games to watch!”



Girls Badminton

The Girls Badminton team is excited to go into this upcoming season and are hoping to enjoy their season as much as possible. “The badminton team really goes into the season not expecting or worrying about how we might do, but we go in to have fun!” senior Molly Rojas said. “I would love for us to do well and win our matches, but I think the goal is to really just enjoy the sport and the experience [of] being on the team!” Last season, Rojas says the team won matches in both the singles and doubles competitions, and Rojas is confident that the team can repeat that success. “Personally I’m super excited going into the season,” Rojas said. “I think the team is going to do really well!” Rojas enjoys the camaraderie of the team, and believes that their team chemistry is one of their biggest strengths. “I think the team is really strong in our sportsmanship and support for each other,” Rojas said. “Regardless of what the score is, we always support and cheer each other on, and that really fuels our love for the sport and our team! Our team is like a family, no one thinks they are above anyone, and we are all able to create such meaningful relationships because of our support for each other.” Rojas says that while any game is fun to watch, there are a few that fans should attend. “Of course our senior night would be very important to have fans to support the seniors and the whole team,” Rojas said. “Especially if we play against Bellevue we need that extra spirit!”



Girls Softball

This year’s Girls Softball team is looking forward to the upcoming season after coming off a year of limited success. “Last season was a rebuilding year so we didn’t have too much success, but it was really fun,” junior captain Joey Lurie said. “I’m feeling really good and excited going into this season, [and] we are supposed to be getting a good amount of new players.” Lurie says that she hopes the team can put a few more wins on their record this year, but noted that the main priority was that everyone was having fun. However, there are a couple strengths of the team that Lurie made sure to note. “Our team has a few really strong batters, and great sportsmanship,” Lurie said. “We have struggled in the past with pitching, but we have a few really strong pitchers this year who are hoping to have a successful season.” There is one other thing that the team is very excited for: the new fields at South Mercer. “Can’t wait to put our new fields to use!” Lurie said. “They look so amazing and we are excited to play some night games under the new lights!” She recommends coming to the jamboree around the beginning of March, where 12 local teams will come together to compete on the brand-new fields.


Girls Lacrosse

The Girls Lacrosse team is coming off back-to-back State title victories, and hope to repeat their success this year, despite some team changes. “We are feeling really good,” senior Kate Nordstrom said. “We lost a few good players, who were very important to the team, but we have been working hard to fill their roles and prepare ourselves for this season. The team only lost one game last season, and beat Issaquah 15-3 in the final. This year, Nordstrom says the team has their sights set even higher: “An undefeated season and a back-to-back State championships.” Nordstrom believes that the team will be up to the challenge, especially with the current players they have. “We are really strong in all parts of the field, specifically defense; we have probably the best defensive unit in the state,” Nordstrom said. “We lost our star midfielder, so the draw will take a lot of hard work to reach the standards set by Molly Brodsky.” Nordstrom also notes that there are two home games in particular that fans should attend. “Our games against Seattle Prep and Woodinville at home will be great games to watch,” Nordstrom said.

 

Boys Baseball

Last year’s Boys Baseball team had an 0.76 record and won the State championship, and are aiming to repeat their strong season this year. “[The] team goals [are] to win [the] KingCo championship and the State championships,” senior Evan Otte said. “We are feeling just as good if not better [than last season]. We have a ton of returning players and we know what it takes to make it to the State Championship and ultimately win the State Championship.” Otte says that while he’d like to see the team improve upon their chemistry, especially with the players who will be coming up to the varsity team, there is one particular position that they have a lot of strength in. “Our team’s strength is pitching with all of our pitchers from last year returning with one more year of experience,” Otte said. He finally noted that the two opponents who fans should watch out for games against are Bellevue and Lake Washington.

 

Track and Field

This year’s Track and Field team had a strong showing last season, particularly within their relay teams. “Last season went so well for our team,” senior captain Mac Monen said. “It was the first year since the early 2000s that both a girls 4×400 relay team and a boys 4×400 team went to WA State Championships, and we have an amazing distance group that progressed through KingCo and Districts [last year].” Monen also noted that this year’s team has a strong leadership group and are excited to get their training going. “Our team has a new incredible batch of captains that are so excited and pumped for this season,” Monen said. “This year we started our winter training early to get a head start and advantage for this year’s season …  I have a hunch more members will progress into State this year because I know all of us have been working so hard to make it happen.” Monen says that one goal they have is to increase the unity within the team. “Our team is super strong when it comes to spirit, mental and physical effort we put into our races, jumps and throws. However, there is a strong divide between our distance group and sprinting group [which] we hope to dissolve this season to create a united, strong team.” Monen says that while she always enjoys when fans come to races, the first meet would be a great one to attend. “This year we are starting strong with our first track meet being at home in the jungle and we hope our fans will come and watch!”

 

Girls Golf

Last year’s Girls Golf team was extremely successful last year, and are excited to jump into the new season. “Last season we had a very strong finish as a team finishing first at League Medalist, 2nd at Districts and 4th at State,” senior captain Lucia Morelli said. However, Morelli noted that there are a few team changes that the team will have to learn to work with. “This year is going to [be] different for the team because for the first time since the program started there will be a new head coach,” Morelli said. Despite this coaching change, the team has a strong foundation. “Our team is strong, having a lot of returning girls and they have the desire to compete,” Morelli said. “There is always room to improve and it is really more specialized to each individual in golf.” Morelli also says that while the team is working to improve their golf, they also have some off-the-green aspirations. “We are excited as a team to be able to be together and compete no matter the outcome,” Morelli said. “Our team goals are to be able to compete while as a team, working on improving ourselves and not only caring about winning.” She says that there are two opponents who she predicts will provide the most interesting match-ups. “One of the most important matches for fans would be either our match against Bellevue or Interlake because they are our biggest rivals,” Morelli said.

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About the Contributor
Jordan Balousek, Sports Team & Photography Team
Jordan Balousek is an MIHS Sophomore and second-year member of The Islander. In the previous year, she was a Staff Writer. This year, she is excited to return as a member of the Sports Team. Outside of school, Jordan enjoys playing soccer, spending time with friends, and reading.

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    Lexi KrawiecMar 3, 2023 at 1:38 pm

    It is so interesting to hear the inside scoop for each sports and their plans for the upcoming season! Great job on this article.

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