By David Krueger Herald Writer
LAKE STEVENS — The Snohomish Panthers boys soccer team came out in a bit of a frenzy against Wesco rival Lake Stevens on Tuesday night.
But once Snohomish settled down, it turned a close Wesco 4A North contest into a blowout. The Panthers scored three second-half goals — two by Uriel Herrera — as Snohomish defeated Lake Stevens 4-0 at Lake Stevens High School.
“I was happy with the boys. They did well,” Snohomish head coach Dan Pingrey said. “I think we were a bit frantic in the beginning. Big game, get a bit over-psyched, but I think as the game went on we started to settle down and got some really nice goals. We started moving the ball and when we did that, it worked well.”
Snohomish forward Eric Jones gave the Panthers the early advantage in the 17th minute when he found himself free on the right side of the field and rocketed a shot past Lake Stevens goalkeeper Vaughn Silver.
That was the only scoring in the game until Herrera got to work in the second half. Herrera’s first goal came on a long throw-in by Blake Crutchfield from about the 20-yard line. Herrera out-jumped Lake Stevens’ defense to give the Panthers a 2-0 lead in the 48th minute.
The senior added a penalty kick in the 66th minute that all but sealed the Snohomish victory.
“You see the things that he does. He’s so creative,” Pingrey said. “He makes so many things happen. He’s very confident.”
George Montemor found the back of the net for Snohomish (3-0 league, 3-1 overall) in the 72nd minute to give the game its final score.
Both teams had scoring opportunities in the first half but Lake Stevens (1-1, 1-1-2) struggled as Snohomish’s defense closed in on the Vikings’ attackers, particularly within 20 yards from the goal. The Panthers’ crisp passes proved difficult for Lake Stevens, but Snohomish only capitalized on one of its five shots on goal in the first half.
The Panthers came out much more organized in the second half as they began to pull away.
“I was impressed,” Lake Stevens head coach Kit Shanholtzer said. “They moved the ball well, they defended well and they moved as a team.”
Snohomish was coming off a 1-0 loss to Skyline on Saturday. That game came less than 10 hours after the end of the Panthers’ 4-3 win over Mount Vernon on Friday night.
Pingrey said the quick turnaround was tough for his players, who he said lacked energy in Saturday’s match. The coaching staff challenged the Panthers to come out stronger against Lake Stevens.
“Tonight was a challenge, by the staff, to show us what they really are made of,” Pingrey said. “… Let’s see how good we can be or how good we hope to be. Lake Stevens is a big, athletic team and they always make it difficult so (to win) on their turf, I feel good about the game.”
The Vikings threatened late but couldn’t get the ball past Snohomish goalkeeper Ryan Peters, who recorded the shutout for the Panthers. Shanholtzer hopes his experienced Lake Stevens squad — which is comprised entirely of juniors and seniors save Silver, its sophomore goalkeeper — can learn from the early-season contest against Snohomish.
“The guys are really disappointed in (themselves) now … but I think they’ll have a lot of growth out of it,” Shanholtzer said. “I think they’ll take it to heart.”
The Snohomish coach is quite confident that the Lake Stevens team will continue to come together and improve.
“They’re mostly juniors and seniors. They’re big, they’re strong, they’re athletic and they’ve played together a lot,” Pingrey said. “It’s still early for them. We’re all still sorting ourselves out a bit. I anticipate that they will continue to get better.”
Pingrey hopes that the Vikings aren’t the only ones. Borrowing a line from the Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks, Pingrey said Snohomish will continue to take its season “game-by-game.”
“Truly, we want to take a page from the Seahawks which is, ‘a game at a time,’” Pingrey said. “And as silly and cliché as it sounds, that’s what allows you to be successful. This was a big game tonight and we were successful and now we prepare for the next big game.”
At Lake Stevens H.S.
Goals–Eric Jones (S), Uriel Herrera (S) 2, George Montemor (S). Assists–Blake Crutchfield (S). Goalkeepers–Lake Stevens: Vaughn Silver. Snohomish: Ryan Peters. Records–Snohomish 3-0 league, 3-1 overall. Lake Stevens 1-1, 1-1-2.