Both teams have won state championships in the past eight seasons, with Glacier Peak winning in 2010 and Snohomish hoisting the trophy in 2006 – after previously winning in 2000.
The two teams are a combined 26-4-2 this season, with one of those losses coming when Snohomish edged out Glacier Peak 1-0 on April 26. Both teams also won their respective regular-season league titles – the Panthers (13-1 league, 14-2 overall) finishing first in Wesco 4A North and the Grizzlies (10-1-2, 12-2-2) taking the 3A South crown.
“Snohomish soccer is extremely rich and has a great history,” said Glacier Peak head coach Kyle Veach, who grew up playing soccer against Snohomish at Oak Harbor. “I'm very aware of that living in the area and moving my kids here and living here. Snohomish is known for soccer. It's special to be able to be a part of it. … It's always been like this. Since I was a kid Snohomish has always been a powerhouse, boys and girls. When Glacier Peak opened up its success was no surprise.”
As soon as Glacier Peak opened Snohomish head coach Dan Pingrey saw that it was going to have a drastic impact on his Panther teams.
“We had to do a little bit of a restart and kickstart, climb back into where we want to be,” Pingrey said. “We used to have almost as many as 100 kids tryout. … The highest year was 96 players. Now we average about 45.”
The Glacier Peak and Snohomish players can't help but wonder what would happen if they all played for one program.
“It would be a dream team,” said Glacier Peak senior Matt Johnston before the Grizzlies game against Snohomish. “It would be hard to make the team in the first place. But I think we would be unstoppable. We have a lot of talent on both sides. It would definitely be the best team in the state.”
And as long as they're not playing each other, the two teams appear to root for their crosstown rivals in the playoffs.
To a point.
“Last year, them getting pretty far like us, it's kind of cool to just see the community of Snohomish showing how good our area is. We hope that they get far as well,” said Grizzlies senior Branson Corwin. “We've just got to get a little farther than them.”
Can anyone in the Wesco 4A South challenge Snohomish?
With just two losses all season, Snohomish is the favorite to repeat as district champions. The Panthers lone league loss came to Wesco 4A North rival Mount Vernon, but Snohomish was also challenged by the 4A South teams.
The conference featured three teams with eight or more wins – Kamiak, Mariner and Cascade. Kamiak, which won the regular season league title, had the closest game against the Panthers — a 1-0 Snohomish victory on April 17. Cascade lost to the Panthers 4-0 on April 7 but has only lost one game since then, going 7-1-1.
Mariner also comes into the postseason having won four of its last six games, with its two losses in that period coming against the Knights and Bruins.
“Having a chance to have played (Cascade and Mariner) — just within the last few weeks — gives us a chance to know what we're in for (at the district tournament),” said Kamiak head coach Kosta Pitharoulis.
Pitharoulis said that the 4A District tournament is wide-open, as the teams from the battle-tested 4A South try to take down Snohomish and the rest of the 4A North.
“Snohomish is a very good team. In a tough game, we got out of there with a 1-0 loss,” Pitharoulis said. “I think it's one of those ‘on any given day' type of deals. We can definitely play with anybody. … One game at a time is our focus. It wouldn't be smart on our part to look ahead.”
Can Wanambisi or Panduro-Galvan lead teams to titles?
Looking at the records of the Wesco 3A teams that qualified for the postseason, one can't help but notice the top four teams in the south have better league records than Marysville Pilchuck, the top team from the north.
But that doesn't mean the Tomahawks should be counted out in the postseason. Marysville Pilchuck dealt with injuries throughout the season, including one that caused leading scorer Fabian Panduro-Galvan to miss time.
With a healthy Panduro-Galvan, the Tomahawks can be dangerous in the district tournament.
“He's a natural scorer,” Tomahawks head coach Paul Bartley said. “He knows where the ball is going. He figures it out and picks up easy goals.”
Marysville Pilchuck could be even more dangerous because of the emergence of Sebastian Navarro, who came on offensively toward the end of the season. The added scoring threat is helping open up the field for Panduro-Galvan.
“Now teams are paying so much attention to him (Panduro-Galvan) that when he gets the ball he's dealing the ball and distributing,” Bartley said. “He's opening up other people for more goals.”
The team the Tomahawks edged for the north title, Stanwood, will be a tough team to beat as well because of senior Laurence Wanambisi. Like Panduro-Galvan, Wanambisi is one of the most dynamic scorers in the area.
“If they're healthy and in one piece, you have to account for either one,” Bartley said of Panduro-Galvan and Wanambisi. “They're dangerous. You can't let them have space on the ball and you have to have somebody mark him tight enough that it denies them the ball. If you let them get the ball in space they are going to score on you. That's just the way it is.”
Which teams' goalkeepers can be difference makers?
Nearly as important as scoring goals in the postseason is having a goalkeeper that can keep the other team from scoring.
Snohomish has been consistently one of the best teams in the area all season, losing one league game and just two games overall. There are many reasons for the Panthers' success, but the goalkeeping of Ryan Peters has certainly played a role. Peters leads all goalkeepers from Wesco and the Cascade Conference in shutouts with eight. In a span of eight games from Apr. 2 through Apr. 26 the Panthers didn't allow a goal.
Across town at Glacier Peak, Lucas MacMillan isn't far behind Peters with five shutouts. Not coincidently, both Snohomish and Glacier Peak won regular-season league championships.
In the Wesco 3A North, Stanwood's Riley Martin has had an impressive season with three shutouts helping his team to a second-place finish in league. Marysville Pilchuck, the 3A North champions, are fortunate enough to have two very talented goalkeepers to rely on in Ryan Spiva and Kole Bradley-Kuk.
In the 4A district tournament, Kamiak's Tristan Bratvold, Cascade's Scott Pease and Lake Stevens' Vaughn Silver all collected their share of shutouts in the regular season as well.
With several talented goalkeepers and stingy defenses, goals could be at a premium in both the 3A and 4A tournaments.
Who is the biggest challenge to Murphy in 2A?
There won't be another showdown between Archbishop Murphy and Bellingham in the 2A District 1/2 Tournament.
After dispatching the Red Raiders twice in the past two years to keep their streak of three straight district titles alive, the Wildcats will have some different teams taking aim at them this season.
At the top of the list is Squalicum, which finished the season unbeaten en route to the Northwest Conference championship. The Storm, who face Lakewood in the first round today, have five or six players who can score at any time in seniors Christian Chala, Gabe Guidroz, David Abbott-Smith, B.J. Flood and Quinn Carpenter.
But what's best about this team isn't its offense, it's the defense. Squalicum has allowd just five goals all season and just two over its past 12 games. The Storm's defensive backline is huge and is led by starting center back Hans Kogan, and Avery Wolfe and B.J. James.
First, Archbishop Murphy will have to get past Sedro-Woolley, which hasn't lost since April 21 and finished fourth in the Northwest Conference. In a possible semifinal game, Archbishop Murphy could face either Sammamish, which beat 3A Mountlake Terrace 2-0 back in March, or the Northwest Conference's No. 2 team, Anacortes. The Seahawks' only league loss this season is to Squalicum.
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