Panthers top Grizzlies in first ever matchup

SNOHOMISH — As the sun set over Veterans Memorial Stadium Saturday, the members of the Glacier Peak and Snohomish boys soccer team gathered at midfield in an alternating red and blue chain with the players arms around each other to pose for a historic photo.

It was a positive sight for the city of Snohomish that was about to see its teams, that have had great success at their respective levels over the almost four year history of Glacier Peak, meet on the field for the first time.

Moments later, 4A big brother Snohomish jumped ahead of its younger 3A sibling. The Panthers scored in the first and second minutes on the way to a 4-2 victory.

More important than the final result of the nonleague contest was the community benefit.

“It’s a cross-town rivalry, which is always going to be big,” Snohomish coach Dan Pingrey said. “Manchester (United) and Man City (of the English Premier League) are playing next week. It’s the same concept. When it’s all said and done, there are a lot of kids that are friends, know each other, and play on the same (club) teams. We want to make it a rivalry, but we want to make it a positive thing too.”

On the field, the Panthers (7-0 overall) showed their offensive might as they have all season. They average more than three goals per contest.

The Grizzlies (3-3-1), who sit atop the Wesco 3A south standings, couldn’t quite keep up with the Snohomish onslaught, but coach Shannon Murray was happy with his team’s fight to close the nonleague schedule, which featured three strong 4A teams. Murray thinks that it will prepare the Grizzlies to contend in the postseason at the 3A level.

“I thought they brought something physically that we hadn’t seen yet, which is going to be good for us over the long run,” Murray said. “That was something I think we can take from this game and learn from.”

It took the Panthers no time to steal the ball from the Grizzlies after the opening kickoff and earn a corner kick. Kieren Raney curled a dangerous attempt into the box, but GP keeper Jesus Mendoza punched it clear. The Panthers regained possession and ran into a wall just inside the penalty area where a foul was called, setting up a Uriel Herrera penalty kick. Herrera rolled it slowly into the right corner as Mendoza jumped left and the Panthers took a 1-0 lead in the first minute.

One minute later, Tyler Mayer put the Panthers ahead 2-0 on a Raney assist.

For Raney, and most of the players on both sides, the game couldn’t have been more positive.

“They are a good squad,” the Panther senior said. “It was really cool to have the town together to play a game to see where we are at. Obviously, we are a bigger school and we haven’t played before, it was good to come out and play hard against guys we could be going to school with but just aren’t.”

Snohomish dominated possession for the first half, but was vulnerable on counterattacks and Glacier Peak took advantage in the seventh minute. Michael Mikulsky charged down the field on a breakaway and Luke Riske came out of the Snohomish goal to challenge. Mikulsky sidestepped the Panthers keeper and sent a cross on the money to Branson Corwin who converted in front of a wide open net to make the score 2-1.

In the 16th minute, the Panthers showed one of the many ways they can score, this time off a throw-in. Defender Blake Crutchfield hurled a rocket from about 20-yards out to the far corner of the goalie box where Mendoza couldn’t handle the save and Jose Gaspar put away the ricochet with his head.

“It’s a huge weapon,” Pingrey said. “It’s fantastic. We’ve had some guys who can really toss the ball and the Crutchfield family — we’ve had three of them — have all been able to do that.”

In the 29th minute the Grizzlies scored when Spencer Pettit set up Corwin again, this time on a free kick, to trim the lead to 3-2.

In the 54th minute, the Panthers earned a foul about 40 yards from the goal and Crutchfield took the free kick, dropping it into the goalie box where Juan Machuca was there to slip a header past new goalkeeper Lucas MacMillan.

“I really feel like this is a good test for us,” Raney said. “Teams that are going to get in our heads, teams that can put up goals and numbers against us … it was good to see how we can handle ourselves along with the other team. I was really happy with how we played tonight. I think it’s a sign for what is going to come and we are hoping to go all the way this year.”

At Veterans Memorial Stadium.

Goals—Uriel Herrera (S), Tyler Mayer (S), Branson Corwin (G) 2, Jose Gaspar (S), Juan Machuca (S) Assists— Blake Crutchfield (S) 2, Michael Mikulsky (G), Spencer Pettit (G), Kieren Raney (S). Goalkeepers—Glacier Peak: Jesus Mendoza, Lucas MacMillan. Snohomish: Luke Riske, Ryan Peters. Records—Glacier Peak (3-3-1 overall), Snohomish (7-0).

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