By John Boyle Herald Writer
SNOHOMISH — Scott Flanders left the postgame interviews to his assistant Kit Shanholtzer, and it’s hard to blame the Lake Stevens coach for passing the buck.
After all, Flanders apparently used up his “A” material on his team at halftime.
Trailing by a goal after a first half controlled by Marysville-Pilchuck, the Vikings erupted for four second-half goals to secure a 4-1 victory in the 4A District 1 Championship game at Veterans Memorial Stadium.
The message at halftime? Don’t let a slow start turn into a repeat of a loss from earlier in the season. Last month, Lake Stevens fell behind early to Monroe and never recovered, which was something Flanders didn’t want to see his team do with a district title on the line.
“We broke down emotionally and physically in that game,” Shanholtzer said. “So when we walked into the locker room, the first thing Scott said was, ‘Are we having another Monroe right now? Where are we at right now? Where are our heads?’”
It took the Vikings just 10 minutes to respond in the second half and show that they weren’t heading for “another Monroe.”
Nic Rowe got the goal barrage started in the 50th minute, firing in a shot from point-blank range off a cross from Vasily Bagdanoff. Only seconds earlier, Bagdanoff beat two M-P defenders to get into the box, but his shot went right to the feet of Marysville-Pilchuck keeper Kyle Bluhm.
“From that point on, I felt we had a chance,” Bagdanoff said.
Nine minutes after Rowe’s goal, Josh Otusanya gave Lake Stevens the lead with a rocket off a cross from Bagdanoff. Bagdanoff then got a goal of his own in the 72nd minute, finishing a rebound after Bluhm denied Rowe on a one-on-one chance. Otusanya scored his second goal of the night on a breakaway in the 77th minute when the Tomahawks were pushing forward to try to generate more offense.
That second-half goal binge marked a drastic turnaround for the Vikings, who trailed 1-0 less than two minutes into the game, and were on their heels most of the first half as the Tomahawks came close on several occasions to increasing their 1-0 lead.
Brady Ballew, a Seattle University recruit, put M-P up 1-0 with a free kick from 25 yards out that curled around the Lake Stevens wall just inside the post and out of reach of diving goalkeeper Tanner Eney.
Lake Stevens nearly tied the score in the 16th minute, but a header that appeared destined for the goal was cleared off the goal line by Tomahawks forward James Allen. After that, Marysville-Pilchuck resumed control for most of the half.
Ballew nearly made it a two-goal lead in the 21st minute, breaking free for a one-on-one with Eney, but the Vikings’ keeper was able to make the save. Moments later, Ballew thought he had a second goal, but was called for offside.
“That first half we didn’t have anything,” Bagdanoff said. “We weren’t connecting passes, we were just in a hurry after they scored that first goal.”
Both the Vikings (15-2-1) and the Tomahawks (12-5-1) advance to the state tournament.
Snohomish 1, Kamiak 0
With a toss, a flick, and a well-placed header, an impressive streak continued for the Snohomish boys soccer team.
The Panthers defeated Kamiak 1-0 on a second-half goal by Spencer Helfrich, clinching a third-place finish in the 4A District 1 tournament, and more importantly, the victory sends Snohomish to state for the 12th straight season.
Following a scoreless first half that saw both teams come close to scoring on a number of chances, the Panthers (13-5-1) scored the game winner off of a 45th-minute throw-in. Carson Pingrey put a long throw into the box, Zach Crutchfield flicked the ball along with his head. With Kamiak goalkeeper Caleb Smith off his line to try to grab the original throw, Helfrich was able to head the ball into an open net.
Snohomish nearly doubled its lead later in the second half, hitting the post on two occasions, then held off a late attack by Kamiak to keep alive a streak of state tournament berths that dates back to 1999.
“They knew that was there and they handled that kind of pressure,” said Snohomish coach Dan Pingrey. “Towards the end of the season, it got to the point where we just had to get better one game at time — as much of a cliche as it is — each game moving forward. The next game will be the same. We’re good enough to take care of it, we just have to keep believing, keep playing, and it’s getting better.”
Collin Shelton, a freshman who started the season as a forward, recorded the shutout in goal for Snohomish.
Herald Writer John Boyle: firstname.lastname@example.org.