Panthers pass pain to Jackson

SNOHOMISH — The Snohomish Panthers hated losing so much, they had to show someone else how it feels.

Coming off its first defeat of the season, the Snohomish High School girls soccer team outlasted the previously unbeaten Jackson Timberwolves Thursday in the Class 4A District 1 championship game at Veterans Memorial Stadium. Snohomish, which lost its final regular season game after starting the season 14-0-1, scored twice in the first half and held on to beat Jackson 2-1 to earn its first district crown since 2002.

“We definitely knew what (losing) feels like and we didn’t want to repeat that again. It was definitely motivation to step up our game and to learn from our mistakes,” said Snohomish junior Melanie Bjornethun, who scored the first goal of the night on a corner kick.

Juliet Desmarais, also a junior, tallied the other goal for Snohomish (15-1-1 overall), and senior goalkeeper Madison Goverde made six saves for the Panthers.

Both teams already had qualified for the 4A state tournament, which begins next week.

Snohomish, the Western Conference North Division champion, hosts the District 3 No. 5 seed at 7 p.m. Tuesday in a first-round state tourney contest at Veterans Memorial.

Jackson (15-1-1), the Wesco South champ, travels to play the District 3 No. 2 seed either Tuesday or Wednesday. Senior forward Kristi Kingma scored the lone goal for the Timberwolves, who finished with 15 shots, six more than Snohomish.

Snohomish coach Dan Pingrey praised the effort of several Panthers who competed despite illness or injury. One of them, sophomore defender Hailey Garrity, “shouldn’t even be out there. … She’s been on antibiotics and sick as a dog,” Pingrey said.

Snohomish played without senior forward Lacee Ross, who was recently removed from the squad for violating school district rules, Pingrey said. Ross, who led Snohomish scorers with 13 points in the regular season (six goals, seven assists), could return for the quarterfinals, Pingrey said.

After starting slowly, Jackson generated more first-half shots (nine) than Snohomish (seven). But quality beat quantity as Snohomish led 2-0 by the intermission.

Snohomish fired three shots in the first four minutes and scored on its fourth shot. In the 10th minute, Bjornethun drilled a curving corner kick with her left foot from the right side that snuck inside the left post. The junior midfielder’s fourth goal of the season seemed to stun both teams, and it obviously gave Snohomish some early confidence.

Bjornethun started taking corner kicks after Ross’ departure.

“Lacee’s always taken the corners, but since Lacee’s been gone we’ve had Mel start taking them, and she’s been dangerous ever since,” Pingrey said.

Jackson’s offense warmed up midway through the opening half, tallying seven shots in a 14-minute stretch in which Snohomish had no shots. “The first (Snohomish goal) was a wakeup call,” Jackson coach Mike Bartley said. “Then we decided to play.”

But with three minutes before halftime, Snohomish turned another quick strike into a goal. Desmarais took a crossing pass from Brooke Gilbert and kicked the ball into the right corner of the goal mouth.

Jackson cut it to 2-1 in the second half when Kingma scored her team-leading 22nd goal of the year. Following a corner kick by Laura Hernandez that landed in the middle of the penalty box, Kingma pounced on the ball and, surrounded by several defenders, kicked a low shot over the goal line.

But, as it turned out, Jackson’s slow start was too much to overcome. Now it will try to bounce back in the state tourney, where one loss ends the season.

“(Against Snohomish) we won the second half one-nothing. That’s what we’re gonna build off of,” Bartley said.

At Veterans Memorial Stadium

Goals-Snohomish: Bjornethun, Desmarais. Jackson: Kingma. Assists-Snohomish: Gilbert. Jackson: Hernandez. Goalkeepers-Snohomish: Goverde. Jackson: Wilson. Records-Snohomish 15-1-1 overall. Jackson 15-1-1.

Contact Herald Writer Mike Cane at mcane@heraldnet.com. For more high school sports news, check out the prep sports blog Double Team at www.heraldnet.com/doubleteam.

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