Eleven seniors and experience in such situations paid off for the Grizzlies as they ran away with a 3-0 victory over Meadowdale on Senior Night for the Mavericks.
Entering Friday, the Wesco 3A South featured Shorewood, Shorecrest, Meadowdale and Glacier Peak with seven wins each. The Grizzlies and Thunderbirds were perched at the top with two more points than the others. With Shorecrest and Shorewood facing teams they would be heavily favored to beat, the contest at Edmonds Stadium lined up to be a virtual elimination game for the league crown — especially for the Mavericks.
“It's been pretty tight, so we came into this like we are starting playoffs now,” Glacier Peak senior Branson Corwin said. “I know playoffs really start in a week or so, but we know Meadowdale is a tough team and we needed to get this game done.”
Corwin made sure they did, scoring twice, first in the 25th minute and then again sealing the game in the 64th minute.
For Meadowdale, it was a night of missed potential. Coach Wade Foley talked to the Mavericks, who were not picked near first by anyone in the preseason, about winning the league title.
“We talked about that,” Foley said. “We had a lot of distractions tonight. It was Senior Night and a lot of pressure for these guys. A lot of them are looking at that going, ‘This is our opportunity.' I felt the emotion. I saw some guys get a little bit rattled.”
The Grizzlies made sure senior keeper Mark Steinke was not comfortable from the beginning.
Steinke survived a frantic scramble for a loose ball in the fifth minute, making an adept save and then clearing to ball for a fruitless Grizzlies corner kick. The Mavericks keeper wasn't so lucky 20 minutes later when Corwin corralled a loose ball and poked it to the back of the net. Steinke had stepped off his line and Corwin took advantage.
“The ball was coming across, bouncing. Me and Blake (Forman) were deciding who's going to kick this ball. I was like, ‘I'm taking this and putting it in the back of the net and getting that first goal.'”
The Mavericks had their scoring chances but were unable to solve Lucas MacMillan and the Grizzlies' defense.
“It's a senior-laden team,” first-year GP coach Kyle Veach said. “He's a senior goalkeeper and is prepared to make key saves. The backline in front of him is phenomenal … they are kind to him. When he needs to come up he always does.”
The second half was somewhat of a frenetic pace for both sides, with lots of scrambles and hurries, but little to show for it on the scoreboard until the 64th minute.
Riley Prescott absolutely teed off a shot into the splayed body of Steinke, who made the deflection, but the ball squirted straight to Greyden Saunders who stepped to an easy goal that made it 2-0.
Seven minutes later Spencer Pettit set up Corwin for the night's final goal. Pettit put the ball in the box and Corwin headed it past Steinke.
“When we play right, it's real nice,” Veach said. “We've got a lot of quality and moved the ball around real well.”
Although mathematically alive for the crown, it would take an unlikely string of events to put Meadowdale atop the standings with two games to play at Oak Harbor and Shorewood.
“It's all about the playoffs,” Foley said. “It doesn't matter where you finish as long as you finish in the top four. The South division is really strong this year.”
Veach and the Grizzlies beg to differ as the South crown still means a lot to them. Barring a slip up against winless Everett or Mountlake Terrace, who they beat 4-0 earlier in the year, the Grizzlies will at least tie for the league title, hoping Shorewood gives up points to Shorecrest or Meadowdale.
As a freshman, Corwin was on the nationally ranked team that ended up third in the state. After two years outside of the State picture the 11 seniors have their sites set high again.
“We definitely want to go out with a bang senior year,” Corwin said.
At Edmonds District Stadium
Goals—Branson Corwin (G) 2, Greyden Saunders (G). Assists—Spencer Pettit (G), Riley Prescott (G). Goalkeepers—Glacier Peak: Lucas MacMillan. Meadowdale: Mark Steinke. Records—Glacier Peak (8-1-2 league, 10-2-2 overall), Meadowdale (7-4-0, 8-5-1)
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