SNOHOMISH — The Snohomish girls soccer team just wanted the final whistle to blow so it could celebrate a win Thursday night.
But first, Snohomish had to play its best defense in the final seconds of its game against Edmonds-Woodway.
The Warriors lined up for a corner kick, got the ball in front of the Snohomish goal and a flurry of players kicked and lunged at it. Edmonds-Woodway got off a good-looking shot, but it bounced off the crossbar right back in front of the goal.
After a few more kicks, Snohomish cleared the ball and the referee whistled an end to the match as Panthers head coach April VanAssche, with her hands held above her head, looked on. Snohomish’s 1-0 Wesco 4A victory was official.
“I was praying a little bit, that’s for sure,” VanAssche said of the final minute of play. “It was a great opportunity for us to have a little crunch time there in the last two seconds. I’m proud of my team for not panicking. They kept their composure and had a great finish.”
The defensive stand preserved a 1-0 lead Snohomish collected in the 58th minute when Ellie Otteson, the Panthers’ leading goal scorer this season, found the net. After teammate Emily Minogue redirected the ball to Otteson in front of the E-W goal, she spun around and kicked the ball into the lower corner of the goal.
It was precisely what the coach ordered.
“We talked at halftime about trying to get one early in the half, and not having to try to come up with one late,” VanAssche said.
Otteson, a junior, has been a consistent offensive threat for Snohomish.
“Ellie Otteson has come up big for us many times this season and has been clutch for us in the back of the net when we need it,” VanAssche said. “She’s a very, very great player for us.”
VanAssche also praised the play of center defender Kaytlin Willis, saying the junior, along with Otteson, “has been one of our strongest players all season.”
Snohomish (5-2-0 in league, 7-2-0 overall) was coming off a tough 2-1 loss to Jackson. VanAssche liked the way here team bounced back.
“We just wanted to focus after losing on Tuesday to Jackson,” VanAssche said. “I told the girls there are two routes from a loss and I’m proud of them for coming out and fighting harder.”
The Panthers came out firing from the opening whistle, taking their first shot on goal in the sixth minute off a strike from about 20 yards out by Brooke Pingrey. Snohomish had a 7-3 shots-on-goal advantage in the first half.
But the Edmonds-Woodway defense — anchored by junior goalkeeper Kiera Towell — kept the game scoreless going into the half.
“Edmonds-Woodway is always a hard team to battle against,” VanAssche said. “I don’t think there’s ever been a game between us that was decided by more than one goal.”
Before their corner kick in the final moments, the Warriors’ best scoring chance came off a Snohomish miscue. A Panthers defender passed the ball back to Snohomish goalkeeper Taylor Knapinski, who mishit it and watched as it rolled toward her own goal.
The ball tapped the outer edge of the goal post, just barely rolling out of bounds and saving a Snohomish own goal.
The Warriors (5-1-1, 5-2-1) continued to attack right up until the end of the game, but just couldn’t find the equalizing goal.
“They just have so much talent,” VanAssche said of Edmonds-Woodway. “They’re not relying on just one player.”
At Snohomish Veterans Memorial Stadium
Goals–Elle Otteson (S). Assists–Emily Minogue (S). Goalkeepers–Edmonds-Woodway: Kiera Towell. Snohomish: Taylor Knapinski. Records–Edmonds-Woodway 5-1-1 league, 5-2-1 overall. Snohomish 5-2-0, 7-2-0.