SNOHOMISH — It was the classic case of the irresistible force versus the immovable object.
The Snohomish High School boys soccer team scores goals. Rogers doesn’t allow them. Wednesday night the contrasting styles and philosophies collided in the first round of the 4A state tournament.
And in this case, the object was moved.
Snohomish found a way to break down the Rogers defense en route to a 2-1 victory at Snohomish High School.
“It feels great,” Gus Baxter, who scored Snohomish’s first goal, said about the first-round victory. “Last year it seems like we swept through this stage and I feel we could have looked past this. We kind of did in the first half, but we kept our heads and came through with the win.”
Snohomish faced a tough task against a Rogers team that reached state because of its stingy defense. The Puyallup-based Rams allowed just nine goals all season long — that’s fewer than Snohomish scored in a single game earlier this season — and never more than two in any of its previous 18 contests.
But Snohomish has a nose for the net, coming into the night averaging more than three goals per game, and the Panther offense was more than Rogers could handle. Not only did Snohomish find the net twice, courtesy of Baxter and Jason Fairhurst, they sliced through the Rams’ back line time and again. Had the Panthers been sharper with their finishing, they easily could have scored five.
“We are a very good side and we try very hard to stay focused on what we do well,” Snohomish coach Dan Pingrey said about the key to unlocking the Rogers defense. “We move the ball well, we have very good players up front, and we have a lot of them that we can interchange. That’s the good thing. It’s just whether or not they’re on. They were frustrated with themselves with how many we should have had. We scored two and we’ll take that, but we had so many open chances and we have to be better.”
The victory sent Snohomish (17-2) into the quarterfinals, where the Panthers have a chance at revenge against Skyline. Skyline, which advanced by beating Puyallup 2-0 Wednesday, topped Snohohomish 1-0 in a non-league game March 22. The rematch is Saturday at Snohomish at a time to be determined.
Derric Floyd scored for Rogers (12-3-4), which found some seams in the Snohomish defense after the Panthers went ahead 2-0, making the final 15 minutes uncomfortable for Snohomish.
“At times I thought we played some very good soccer,” Pingrey said. “We also gave them opportunities we have to make sure we clean up. That was my message to them: Congrats, good job, but every game is going to get tougher and we have to clean up those little errors so we don’t give other teams opportunities.”
Snohomish controlled play in the first half and grabbed the lead in the 12th minute. Uriel Herrera flicked a near-post header on Jack McCunn’s corner kick, sending the ball to the far post where Baxter put it in to give the Panthers a 1-0 lead.
Snohomish could have put the game away on either side of halftime. Herrera wriggled free in the box late in the first half, then powered a shot that came back off the underside of the crossbar. Then in the opening minutes of the second half the Panthers had a two-on-one thwarted, and Herrera’s chip attempt when free on goal sailed over.
But the Panthers did get their second goal in the 50th minute. Blake Crutchfield sent a long throw-in toward the goal mouth. The ball fell to the turf, where the teams battled before Fairhurst, a freshman, was able to turn and put in an airborne ball to make it 2-0.
“Jason has been tremendous,” Pingrey said about the freshman, who received playing time during the regular season because of injuries and hasn’t left the lineup since. “I think he has five or six goals now and the same number of assists as a freshman, and it’s been in big games. I was laughing, on that goal I was calling him a Gumby because I couldn’t get my leg that high even when I was athletic.”
It seemed Snohomish was on its way. However, the Rams didn’t quit and they got on the board in the 65th minute. Jose Valentin slipped a pass behind the Snohomish defense to release Floyd, and Floyd slotted the ball into the corner to give Rogers life.
The Rams continued to be dangerous, but some last-ditch defending by the Panthers kept Rogers from getting a premium scoring chance. Snohomish then had chances on the break in the dwindling minutes to put the game away, but was unable to finish. However, a third goal wasn’t required as the Panthers advanced to the final eight.
At Snohomish H.S.
Goals—Gus Baxter (S), Jason Fairhurst (S), Derric Floyd . Assists—Uriel Herrera (S), Blake Crutchfield (S), Jose Valentin. Goalkeepers—Rogers: Jake Fredrikson. Snohomish: Ryan Peters. Records—Snohomish 17-2. Rogers 12-3-4.