SNOHOMISH — Tasting defeat in the state quarterfinals the past two consecutive seasons, there was no way this group of Glacier Peak upperclassmen were going to allow their season to end without a shot at redemption.
Now they have it.
Largely controlling the run of play, the Wesco 4A and District 1 champs scored early off a corner kick, played suffocating defense and punctuated a 2-0 4A state tournament opening-round win against Decatur with a stoppage time goal Wednesday night at Glacier Peak High School.
Owen Padilla scored in the 17th minute off a corner kick from Danny Guerrero, and Brayden Corwin from close range headed in a beautiful cross off a free kick from Keegan Rubio in the game’s final moments.
“We didn’t put a whole lot of emphasis on the league this year,” GP coach Kyle Veach admitted. “All of our emphasis was on state, so we are in a four-game season, and we are 1-0 so far. It’s time to keep going.”
That’s the challenge for these Grizzlies, who reluctantly remember two years ago when they lost 3-2 to Auburn Riverside in the quarters and last year when they suffered a 4-2 defeat to Lakeside in the same round.
“We’re excited for this opportunity and hope to change it this time,” said Glacier Peak senior defender and captain Camron Miller.
The Grizzlies (14-4-1) will travel later this week to face Skyline, who won a thrilling 2-1 come-from-behind match against Puyallup on Wednesday.
Glacier Peak is certainly playing at a high level, especially defensively. Wednesday’s shutout meant GP has allowed only one goal through three postseason matches. Leading the backline against Decatur was Miller, Kevin Ramsey, Ryan Fey, and Favi Zenteno, and keeper Marco Guerrero has registered one solid performance after another.
The Golden Gators’ chances came few and far between, and Glacier Peak’s defense made them work for those opportunities.
“Our outside backs are doing a great job covering outside guys,” Miller said. “Me and Kevin Ramsey are playing well together. It’s a good duo. He’s fast, I’m smart. I know he’s always got my back.”
Glacier Peak played with a one-goal advantage most of the evening. Guerrero curled a well-place corner kick a few yards away from the near post in the 17th minute, and the ball ricocheted off Padilla’s midsection and past Decatur goalkeeper Angel Alverez, giving GP a 1-0 edge.
The Grizzlies could have widened the scoreline several times throughout the match, but failed to do so until stoppage time. Padilla had a one-on-one with Alverez early in the second half, but he waited too long to get a shot off, allowing Alverez to cut off his shooting angle. And in the 69th minute Miles Johnston just pushed a shot wide after a brilliant run and feed from Corwin.
“We feel like we dominated the game pretty much from start to finish and were able to put two away,” Veach said. “I think we would have been happier to put more in. We created enough chances to put more in, but we’ll walk away with the 2-0 result happy.”