By Jon Saperstein Herald Writer
EDMONDS — Snohomish’s Brennan Judy was a bundle of nerves before Thursday’s 4A District 1 soccer championship.
The freshman forward had played in one playoff game in his prep career and this was uncharted territory.
“Pregame was very nerve-wracking for me at least,” Judy said. “I was just hoping for an assist today.”
Instead, he had a hand in all the scoring in the Panthers’ 3-0 romp over Mariner.
Judy’s play was just part of the Snohomish statement made at Edmonds Stadium. Snohomish showed resilience and physicality on both ends of the field while dominating the Wesco South No. 1 seed.
“This group has found a way to deal with the physical game and manage that by still playing how we like to play,” coach Dan Pingrey said.
A year ago, the undefeated and nationally ranked Panthers won the same championship, but lost 1-0 in the first round of the state tournament because, according to Pingrey, they weren’t prepared for the physicality of the postseason’s best teams.
This year, Snohomish heads to state to play the Districts 3/4 No. 4 seed Wednesday, where a first-round victory would keep the Panthers home until the semifinals. Reaching the semis is the next in a series of team goals that included the Wesco North title and the district crown.
“The next goal is to get ourselves to the final four,” Pingrey said.
The Marauders season isn’t over with the loss. Mariner plays the top seed from Districts 3/4 on the road Wednesday in a state game.
Snohomish’s 10 seniors got to celebrate another district title at midfield Thursday night in large part because of the play of the team’s lone freshman.
In the 12th minute, Judy had a chip shot in front of the goal, but dinged the shot weakly off the crossbar. While he put his hands on his head in disgust, he didn’t let the miss affect the rest of his game.
“I always feel like when I miss it, I’m next up to get a goal,” he said.
Nine minutes later he got another chance with Mariner keeper Silvan Katynskiy charging out of his box. This time Judy converted a Jose Gaspar pass to give the Panthers a 1-0 lead. Entering the game, Judy had five goals and five assists for the year.
For the season, sophomore Blake Crutchfield leads Snohomish in assists and the midfielder showed why in the 50th minute. What would be a routine throw in for most teams, becomes a dangerous attempt for Crutchfield, who hurled the ball over the Mariner defense to Judy. He headed the ball into the net for a 2-0 Snohomish lead.
Snohomish took control of the ensuing kickoff and raced down the right sideline. Judy crossed the ball to Jose Gaspar, uncovered on the far post, and Gaspar put it in the back of the net.
“Throw-ins win games if you can do that,” Mariner coach Vince DeSimone said of Crutchfield. “They were a better team. That’s all there is to it.”
Both teams continued to battle the rest of the game, sometimes quite literally. The teams tallied three yellow cards between them all in the second half.
On April 3, Snohomish traveled to Mariner and took a 2-1 victory. That day the Marauders were without star Cristhian Robles, who received a red card in the previous contest. He earned the first yellow Thursday night.
Despite managing their characteristic ball movement, Snohomish could never finish.
“We weren’t able to capitalize on moving the ball around,” DeSimone said.
The Panthers outshot Mariner 11-6. The Marauders had a few injuries to key players, but DeSimone declined to cite specifics, not wanting to make any excuses for the loss.
He knows his team will only advance in the state tournament if it can find ways to score against great teams.
“We have to concentrate more on finishing,” he said
At Edmonds Stadium
Goals—Brennen Judy (S) 2, Jose Gaspar (S). Assists— Gaspar (S) Blake Crutchfield (S), Judy (S). Goalkeepers—Mariner: Silvan Katynskiy. Snohomish: Ryan Peters. Records—Mariner (12-5-1 overall) Snohomish (17-1)