Mercer Island wins KingCo 3A/2A soccer title
Ryan Hill rings up three goals for the second playoff game in a row.
Special to The Seattle Times
ISSAQUAH — Two playoff matches, two hat tricks for Ryan Hill.
Hill, a junior KingCo 3A/2A all-league pick, certainly took a step forward in postseason play for the Mercer Island boys soccer team. With the playoff heat on, he’s turned up his fire.
Hill scored three more goals for the second match in a row as the Islanders returned to state after a one-year absence with a dominating 4-2 win over sixth-ranked Liberty of Issaquah on Tuesday night in the KingCo 3A championship match at Liberty High School.
Hill caught fire and put the Islanders’ program back into Class 3A state for the first time since taking second in 2012, the final season for coach Steve Newman before he passed in October of that same season.
“Our whole team is just hitting our stride right now,” said Hill, who has a team-high 16 goals this season. “We are all super-motivated for playoffs. We kind had a disappointing end to the regular season (going 1-2-1), but we knew we had the potential to turn it around.
“We all believe we can get far in state. I couldn’t do what I did with great assists from Daniel Sims and a great team effort.”
Hill has been playing with a taped broken pinkie toe on his left foot since April 29 in a 1-0 loss to Liberty.
“It hurts, but it’s one of those things you have to play through,” Hill said. “These teams really hadn’t seen me at my best before, so they weren’t expecting the kind of energy I was going to bring up top.”
The Patriots, the regular-season champions in KingCo 3A/2A, had won six matches in a row since a 2-1 loss at Juanita on April 16. Liberty has won the last two KingCo 3A/2A regular-season titles, but struggled in postseason play.
Mercer Island (9-4-5) moves into the first round of Class 3A state and plays either May 19 or 20 under second-year coach Colin Rigby, who played for the Seattle Sounders in the team’s pre-Major League Soccer days.
“Six goals in two games, and you can’t ask for much else from your starting forward,” Rigby said of Hill, who tallied in the 34th, 51st and 71st minutes. “He’s showing the quality he’s always had. He had a few injuries here and there, and he’s on right now.
“We’re all on right now.”
Liberty (13-3-2) now must win two matches to qualify for state, starting with a loser-out match at home on Thursday against Mount Si.