SNOHOMISH — Snohomish boys soccer coach Dan Pingrey learned something about his team on Thursday night. They know how to respond to adversity.
The Panthers defeated the Lake Stevens Vikings 2-1 in an early season battle of Wesco North’s top two teams. Both were unbeaten going into the match.
The Panthers took a 1-0 lead in the 27th minute which they maintained until the 64th minute when Ben Bylin scored for the Vikings to tie the score 1-1.
But the resilient Panthers made sure that lead didn’t last long — just 43 seconds later Reilly Cross scored what proved to be the game-winner.
“They are very confident and they are resilient and that was good because that’s the first time we found somebody coming in,” Pingrey said. “They were pressing and pressing and they get the goal and the response was fantastic. It’s exactly what you want.
“That’s what I’ve kind of been looking to see is how strong are we are mentally, because I know technically we are good, that’s not an issue. As the season goes on, if we continue to have this kind of a run, teams are going to try and do different things against us. So mentally, we talk about it all the time, can we adjust, can we keep our focus?”
If Thursday is any indication, the answer is yes. While Vikings fans were still celebrating the equalizing score, Cross provided the go-ahead goal.
Still, the Vikings gave Snohomish — the state’s top-ranked 4A team in the Seattle Times poll and the No. 12 ranked team nationally by ESPN — all it could handle.
Pingrey said playing a quality team like Lake Stevens benefits both teams.
“It’s huge,” he said. “They are a good side and we knew they would be. It’s good for both teams. It preps us and hopefully both teams can get into the state playoffs and go far. We have had that happen in the past. That’s what you are looking for.”
The Panthers got on the board with 13:17 remaining in the first half when Uriel Herrera scored off a Brendon Wheeler assist. The Panthers held that lead well into the second half.
Three times the Vikings threatened to score early in the second half with some deep direct shots at Snohomish goalkeeper Brenden George. With 33 minutes to play, George made a leaping save on a shot that appeared headed in. Nine minutes later, Lake Stevens had another opportunity, this time from about midfield, but it sailed wide and another one sailed over the goal with 21 minutes remaining in the contest.
“They were doing some different things in the middle and our guys were adjusting,” Pingrey said. “There was pros and cons because we were getting lots of counters as a result, but it created a little mismatch in the middle that they were taking advantage.”
But just over four minutes later, Bylin provided the equalizer, placing a shot in the lower left corner after a deflection on a Vikings free kick.
Cross scored the game-winner 43 seconds later, assisted by Wesley Stark.
At Snohomish H.S.
Goals—Uriel Herrera (S) 1, Ben Bylin (LS) 1, Reilly Cross (S). Assists—Brendon Wheeler (S), Wesley Stark (S). Goalkeepers—Lake Stevens: Brennon Countryman, James Tanner. Snohomish: Brenden George. Records—Lake Stevens 3-1-1 league, 4-1-1 overall. Snohomish 5-0-0, 6-0-0.
Aaron Lommers covers prep sports for The Herald. Follow him on twitter @aaronlommers and contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.