Glacier Peak’s Danny Guerrero celebrates a penalty-kick goal during a 4A state playoff match against Skyline on May 20, 2017, at Skyline High in Sammamish. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

Glacier Peak’s Danny Guerrero celebrates a penalty-kick goal during a 4A state playoff match against Skyline on May 20, 2017, at Skyline High in Sammamish. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

Glacier Peak on to state soccer semis after win over Skyline

SAMMAMISH — On Saturday evening, the Glacier Peak High School boys soccer team finally managed to smash through its own personal glass ceiling.

Playing at the stage that served as the Grizzlies’ roadblock so often in recent years, Glacier Peak finally made the breakthrough, defeating the Skyline Spartans 2-0 in the 4A state quarterfinals at Skyline High School.

Glacier Peak bowed out of the state tournament in the quarterfinals in three of the past four years. The other year the Grizzlies didn’t qualify for state, meaning no player on Glacier Peak’s current roster has seen beyond the quarterfinal round.

Until now.

“It just feels good to win in general,” said Glacier Peak junior forward Danny Guerrero, who scored the Grizzlies’ first goal and played a part in the second. “Since my freshman year we’ve lost in the quarterfinals. It feels good to get to the semis and hopefully we’ll win it all.”

Said Glacier Peak coach Kyle Veach: “Losing out in the quarterfinals the last two years was difficult, but this is a different group, a group we believed in — and we believed we could do it other years. But we learned from those other years. We learned from losing to Auburn Riverside (in 2015) and we learned from losing to Lakeside last year. The boys played like that, dominated from start to finish and were able to put together a good result.”

Owen Padilla also scored for Glacier Peak (15-4-1), the top seed from District 1, which advanced to the semifinals, where the Grizzlies face Todd Beamer on Friday at Sparks Stadium in Puyallup.

Skyline, the Kingco champion, finished its season 12-5-2.

In past quarterfinals, Glacier Peak doomed itself with slow starts. In 2015 against Auburn Riverside, the Grizzles fell into a 2-0 hole before losing 3-2. Then last year Glacier Peak fell behind 3-0 to Lakeside, pulled back within one, but fell 4-2.

So this time the Grizzlies were determined not to dig themselves into a hole.

“We learned that the first 40 is really important and the start is really important,” Veach said. “You take the Riverside game, we were down 1-0 in five minutes and down 2-0 by halftime. You take the Lakeside game, we were down 1-0 in 30 seconds, 2-0 in seven minutes and 3-0 by halftime. So I think from that we learned quite about the level and the stage that this is.”

To that end the Grizzlies took control of the game early and broke the ice in the 21st minute. Keegan Rubio received a cross at the left edge of the penalty box, made a move toward goal and was tripped up by a Skyline defender. The foul was immediately called and a penalty kick was awarded. Guerrero stepped up and ripped a low left-footed shot into the right corner to give Glacier Peak a 1-0 lead.

The Grizzlies had a few nervous moments late in the first half, most notably when Skyline’s McKinley Fodness fizzed a free kick from 26 yards just over the crossbar, but Glacier Peak carried its advantage into the second half.

Then the Grizzlies wasted little time doubling their lead. In the 49th minute Glacier Peak broke quickly following a Skyline set piece, with Guerrero laying a pass off for Rubio, who then released Padilla free down the field. Padilla cut the ball onto his right foot, eluding the last defender in the process, then curled a shot past diving Spartans goalkeeper Kenneth Symmes and into the right corner to make it 2-0.

Guerrero nearly scored a spectacular 45-yard goal five minutes later when he caught Symmes off his line, but his chipped shot just drifted over the crossbar.

In the final 10 minutes the Spartans started committing players forward, and Glacier Peak had to withstand a series of late Skyline corner kicks. On one of those Grizzlies goalkeeper Marco Guerrero had to make a leaping fingertip save on Kasra Pashaee’s attempt, just touching the ball over the crossbar.

And now Glacier Peak is finally on to the semifinals.

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