The Glacier Peak High School boys soccer team seemed destined to be sabotaged by prom. But even without their veterans, the Grizzlies played like champions, claiming the 3A District 1 title Saturday evening by defeating the Shorewood Thunderbirds 2-1 at Shoreline Stadium.
Glacier Peak was missing four of its five seniors because the school's prom also was Saturday night. The game's start time was moved back from 7 p.m. to 5 p.m. in an attempt to accommodate the Glacier Peak seniors, but only defenseman Adrian Caple chose to play, making a quick change into his tuxedo at the stadium before heading to the gala.
Yet a casual observer never would have noticed the Grizzlies were bereft key players. They controlled large stretches of the game and were well worth their title, besting a Shorewood team that had won 12 straight.
"We had a deal within our group that was tough on these guys, and I think it bonded them together," Glacier Peak coach Shannon Murray said. "So win or lose, the way they played today and the way they came out together as a group was awesome. I actually get a little emotional about high school athletics for a lot of reasons. But the lessons they learned over the last three or four days about what a team really is is awesome. I couldn't be more proud. We won a state championship three years ago, but this was really cool."
Added midfielder Branson Corwin, who scored the first of Glacier Peak's goals: "This was phenomenal. I loved that the guys stepped up this game. Not having four of our seniors coming out here, I really appreciate them stepping up their game and having the motivation to get this game done today."
Riley Prescott scored the other goal for the Grizzlies (12-5-2), the No. 2 seed from the Wesco 3A South, who claimed the district's top seed to state. Glacier Peak will play the No. 4 seed from District 2 in the first round.
"We were very confident, even without (the seniors)," said Murray, who added that the missing seniors will be welcomed back to the team Monday. "We have a core of players here who are very good soccer players. If you didn't know any different, you wouldn't have realized we were missing some kids. That's what makes me proud.
"It doesn't matter whose name is called in our program, they step up and perform, which is unbelievable. It was such a group effort today."
Taj McChesney scored for Shorewood (15-2-1), the No. 1 seed from the Wesco 3A South. The T-birds play the District 3/4 No. 2 in the opening round of state. Both of Shorewood's losses this season came at the hands of the Grizzlies.
Shorewood hadn't allowed a goal in the month of May, but the Grizzlies needed just 10 minutes to find the back of the T-birds' net. Corwin and Connor Seed played a nice give-in-go, with Seed chipping the ball over the Shorewood defense to set Corwin free. Corwin blasted the ball past T-birds goalkeeper Calvin Crawford to give Glacier Peak a 1-0 lead.
Shorewood needed just over a minute to tie it. A long, lofted free kick toward the goal mouth eluded the Grizzlies' defense, allowing McChesney to glance a header in from short range and make it 1-1.
Glacier Peak regained the lead in the 29th minute. Following a corner kick, a deflected pass found its way to Prescott open at the far edge of the goal box. Prescott pulled the ball back onto his left foot, then squeezed a shot inside the near post to give the Grizzlies a 2-1 advantage.
Glacier Peak then controlled the ball for much of the second half, and the Grizzlies nearly added to their lead in the 52nd minute when Prescott's header from a corner glanced off the crossbar. Shorewood applied some pressure with time winding down, but Grizzlies goalkeeper Lucas MacMillan was strong at his post to deny a half-chance by McChesney, and Glacier Peak held on for the title.
"It was just motivation for our guys, knowing we had to get this job done," Corwin said. "(The seniors will) be back for state, and knowing we get the home games for state, we can keep moving forward toward the state championship.
"I believe this will really build us and we'll play stronger as we go farther and farther into state."
At Shoreline Stadium
Goals--Branson Corwin (GP), Riley Prescott (GP), Taj McChesney (S). Assists--Connor Seed (GP), Spencer Pettit (GP), Justin Collins (S). Goalkeepers--Glacier Peak: Lucas MacMillan. Shorewood: Clavin Crawford. Records--Glacier Peak 12-5-2 overall. Shorewood 15-2-1.
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