BOTHELL — It’s a new era for the Snohomish boys soccer program.
Gone is an ultra-talented class that won back-to-back state titles in 2014 and 2015 before finishing their careers last spring with a fourth state semifinal appearance. And gone is longtime coach Dan Pingrey, who stepped down prior to this season.
So far, Snohomish has handled the changes in stride.
The Panthers continued their strong start to the season Tuesday night, netting a pair of first-half goals and holding on for a 2-1 win over Mountlake Terrace in a chippy, foul-filled Wesco 3A match at Lynnwood High School.
“We’re excited about this new era and the camaraderie of the guys,” said first-year Snohomish coach Matt Raney, who previously was a longtime assistant in the program.
“It’s different than the past. We knew the scoring would get spread out. We knew that when we got into battles like this, where (in the past) players would take over and win games, this group had to do it together as a unit. (And) we’re starting to see that manifest itself a little bit.”
Tuesday was a clash of strengths between Snohomish’s high-powered offense and Terrace’s stifling defense. The Panthers entered the contest averaging four goals per match, while the Hawks came in having allowed just three goals all season.
Snohomish (7-2-0 overall, 5-1-0 Wesco 3A) struck first after an early foul set up a second-minute free kick, which sophomore forward Owen Fieldler fired past the Terrace goalkeeper with a left-footed rocket from 15 yards out.
“He can put the ball wherever he wants,” Raney said. “And we’ve been exploring him in set-piece situations because of that deadly strike. Those opportunities are custom-fit for him.
“(Defenses) are going to struggle to manage those. (Terrace) set the wall up perfectly. It was well-executed on their end defensively. The goalkeeper was in a great position. It’s just (that Fieldler) put so much on that ball. And it had eyes — it found where it wanted to go.”
Later in the first half, Snohomish launched a deep free kick into the box and drew a foul. Senior forward Logan Stapleton then converted the ensuing 26th-minute penalty kick to give the Panthers a 2-0 lead.
It was the first time this season that the Hawks (8-3-0, 5-2-0) had surrendered more than one goal in a match.
The contest was physical throughout, but emotions boiled over during a second half that featured four yellow cards and a red card. The match turned ugly with about 15 minutes to play when a Terrace player was ejected for slide-tackling the Snohomish goalkeeper.
Terrace senior Sam Polveroy made things interesting in the 75th minute when he slid a 20-yard free kick past Snohomish’s backup goalkeeper and into the net to cut the deficit to 2-1.
The Hawks threatened in stoppage time with a dangerous cross in front of the net, but a Terrace player whiffed on a one-time attempt and the Panthers held on for the victory.
“(We) keep getting better and better,” Raney said. “And we’re doing it at the right time, because we want to enter postseason firing on all cylinders. And this group can do it. There’s the pieces, there’s the commitment and there’s the passion for maintaining that tradition that’s been laid before them. They know it, and they want it.”