STANWOOD – Passing scissors back and forth, they sliced up the red T-shirt with glee. The seemingly harmless garment represented five years of losses to the teenage girls, so they chopped it up, laughing and cheering.
It took five years and 11 tries, but the Stanwood Spartans finally solved the Snohomish hex.
The Stanwood High girls soccer team was 0-9-1 against the Snohomish Panthers since 2001, when Stanwood joined the Class 4A Western Conference North Division. But on Thursday night at Stanwood Stadium, the Spartans overcame an early 1-0 deficit as senior forward Lauren Hansen scored twice to launch Stanwood to a 2-1 victory over Snohomish.
Afterward, the Spartans cut up a 14-year-old Snohomish High shirt owned by their coach, Lori Stunz, a 1992 Snohomish graduate who has used the T-shirt to motivate her squad since she took over the Stanwood program in 2003.
“I’ve been dangling that shirt in front of (Stanwood players) for four years,” Stunz said. “They’ve gotten sick of seeing it.” But they won’t see it again.
“This is pretty huge,” said Hansen, a Utah State University recruit who has 12 goals this season. “As long as I’ve been here we’ve never beaten Snohomish. It’s a huge boost for us.”
First-place Stanwood (5-0-2) started the season with a win over Lake Stevens, last year’s division champ. The triumph against Snohomish (3-2-1) is another symbolic step for the Spartans, who narrowly missed the postseason in 2004 and 2005 and made their only state-tournament appearance in 1996.
Snohomish took a 1-0 lead just three minutes into the game. But instead of panicking, Stanwood counter-attacked and generated two quick goals, both by Hansen. Her 11th goal of the season came in the seventh minute from 10 yards out off a loose ball, and she scored No. 12 on an assist from Michelle Aikens about four minutes later with a nice dribble-stop-shoot move from 20 yards. It gave Stanwood a 2-1 edge, a lead the Spartans maintained through the half.
The teams played a physical, scoreless second half, leading to a long-awaited celebration for Stanwood.
“Great teams battle back,” Stunz told the Spartans after the game. “Good victory. … You have (today) off.”
Stanwood accumulated 10 shots in the first 40 minutes, while Snohomish had just two. Madison Goverde, Snohomish’s goalkeeper, made five saves.
Snohomish opened the scoring when Ashley Tombelaine’s pass trickled through the middle, leaving Melanie Bjornethun with a rare wide-open look from 5 yards.
Snohomish ended Stanwood’s shutout streak at five. The Spartans outscored opponents 12-0 from Sept. 7-19.
Snohomish coach Dan Pingrey liked the way his team played in the second half but said it must eliminate defensive lapses like the ones that allowed Hansen to score.
“She’s a good player. She’s big and she’s strong,” he said. “You can see that she’s matured a lot over the last four years.”
Apparently, all of the scissor-wielding Spartans matured too.
At Stanwood H.S.
Goals-Snohomish: Bjornethun. Stanwood: Hansen 2. Assists-Snohomish: Tombelaine. Stanwood: Aikens. Goalkeepers-Snohomish: Goverde. Stanwood: Jackson. Records-Snohomish 3-2-1 in division and overall. Stanwood 5-0-2, 5-0-2.