By Bob Mortenson
KENT – The Snohomish Panthers headed south Saturday night, and in the end, their dream of repeating as state champions went the same direction.
The host Kentridge Chargers scored a goal late in the first half, and made it stand up in the face of the Panthers’ furious second-half attack to claim a 1-0 victory in the Class 4A state soccer quarterfinal matchup at French Field.
Snohomish ended its season at 15-2-2. Kentridge, 16-2-2, moves on to a semifinal game against Ferris Friday at Everett Memorial Stadium. Ferris beat Wenatchee 1-0 Saturday.
”It’s frustrating, but it was a great season,” Snohomish coach Dan Pingrey said.
Kentridge scored the game’s lone goal when a Sean Sandin corner kick was deflected up-field by the Panthers to unrushing Charger sweeper Mark Cox. Cox fired a shot that went inside the near post to the back of the net from 25 yards out.
”I just cheated up a little bit,” Cox said. ”The ball popped over and I shot it.”
”This is a dream,” Kentridge coach Glenn Walrond said. ”A lot of people didn’t expect us to be here. Snohomish is an outstanding team. They just go together as a unit and they are so fast.”
Fast, yes, but slow-starting too. That finally caught up with the Panthers against the Kentridge defense, anchored by Cox and goalkeeper Jeb Shepard, who had his 12th shutout of the year.
The fleet-footed Sandin set up numerous scoring opportunities for Kentridge, but Snohomish goalie Brian Harrison had four saves to keep the Panthers in the game.
Snohomish nearly dropped a Baum in the second half.
Joe Baum, that is.
The senior forward had numerous takeaways and nearly converted at the 65:00 mark off a cross from Bryan McLeod.
”I just wish we could have carried it further like last year,” a disappointed Baum said. ”I could tell Kentridge wanted it. They came out strong in the first half.”
In the end, the Panthers were outscored but certainly not outclassed. The large contingent of Snohomish fans saluted the squad, including 11 seniors, with an extended standing ovation.
”The seniors have so many accomplishments,” Pingrey said. ”Two or three days from now they will reflect on that and feel a lot better.”