Panthers climb to fourth in final national coaches poll

The party isn’t quite over for the 2006 Snohomish High School boys soccer team.

A little more than two weeks after it won the Class 4A state championship, Snohomish moved up to No. 4 Tuesday in the final National Soccer Coaches Association of America/adidas rankings. It’s the best-ever final national ranking for Snohomish, which went 20-1 and was ranked No. 1 in the nation at one point during the season.

Of course, the Panthers hoped to finish No. 1 – a 3-1 loss against No. 20 Lake Stevens (18-4) on April 28 essentially foiled that dream – but Snohomish coach Dan Pingrey said being branded the nation’s fourth-best team is quite an honor.

“I’ll still take that. (It’s) not too shabby,” Pingrey said. “… It’s a gauge on how successful we were.”

Pingrey called the No. 4 ranking a great reward for a group of extremely dedicated Snohomish players. (The program’s best previous finish was seventh.) Snohomish climbed two spots in the final poll, while Lake Stevens, which took fourth at the 4A state tourney, slipped 11 notches.

Thomas Dale (24-0) of Chester, Va., Lincoln East (18-0) of Nebraska, and Randolph School (25-1) of Huntsville, Ala., were first, second and third, respectively, in the NSCAA/adidas rankings.

Looking ahead to ‘07, Snohomish doesn’t expect a letdown. In fact, the squad will aim even higher, Pingrey said. Next year’s goals include another state title, an undefeated season and a No. 1 national ranking at season’s end.

Said Pingrey, “We’re losing very, very good (seniors). … It will definitely be different, but the core group will still be there, and I think they will be very successful.”

Baseball debate: Who’s the country’s best prep baseball team? Two scouts for pro teams share their thoughts in a story featured on Baseball America magazine’s Web site. The experts weigh the talents of No. 2 Jackson High of Mill Creek and No. 1 The Woodlands (Texas). Both teams won state championships and boast a player picked in the first round of last week’s Major League Baseball draft. To read the full article, visit Baseball America unveils its final poll on June 19.

Murphy trio announces college plans: The following Archbishop Murphy senior boys plan to pursue collegiate athletic opportunities: Stan Smith (Feather River College in Quincy, Calif., football); Alex Burns (Dixie State College in St. George, Utah, football) and Beau Allen (The Evergreen State College in Olympia, soccer).

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