Snohomish’s Gracie Winders (19) celebrates her second-half goal Tuesday at Lincoln Field in Everett. (Ian Terry / The Herald)

Snohomish’s Gracie Winders (19) celebrates her second-half goal Tuesday at Lincoln Field in Everett. (Ian Terry / The Herald)

Snohomish clinches Wesco 3A girls soccer championship

The Panthers blanked Everett 2-0 to solidify a No. 1 seed in the state 3A District 1 tournament.

EVERETT — The Snohomish girls soccer team certainly won’t be an underdog in this season’s Class 3A District 1 tournament.

One year after entering district as a No. 7 seed and rattling off three consecutive wins to reach state, the Panthers are headed to the postseason as Wesco 3A champions.

Snohomish sophomores Megan Mobley and Gracie Winders each scored a goal as the visiting Panthers secured the conference crown with a 2-0 win over Everett in the regular-season finale for both teams Tuesday night at Lincoln Field.

“There’s something to be said about being the underdog,” Snohomish coach April VanAssche said. “That was fun last year. Now the girls have to feel that weight on their shoulders of being the team that everybody’s coming after and gunning after.

“We’ve had a lot of that for the last five or six games, knowing everybody’s trying to knock us down.”

The path to the Wesco 3A title was far from easy for the Panthers. Each of their 10 conference wins came by two goals or less, and six came by a single goal.

But VanAssche said the numerous tightly contested matches should benefit her team as it aims for a second consecutive state tournament appearance.

Snohomish (12-2-2 overall, 10-1-1 Wesco 3A) opens the double-elimination district tournament by hosting a quarterfinal match Saturday against a play-in winner. The top three district finishers advance to state.

“The fact that we never had any real blowouts made (it) a fight for every win,” VanAssche said. “(That’s) going to be good experience for us as we head into districts.”

Mobley put the Panthers on the board with a 23rd-minute goal off a corner kick from sophomore Mackenzie Green.

After Green sent the corner kick skidding across the ground and into a crowded area in front of the net, the ball bounced off a defender toward Mobley. From about 15 yards out, the sophomore midfielder corralled the ball and poked a left-footed goal into the lower-left corner of the net to give Snohomish a 1-0 lead.

“Being right-footed, I don’t really tend to shoot with my left,” Mobley said. “So I was like, ‘Oh, this is not going to go in.’

“But I was like, ‘I’ve got to shoot it anyway.’ And then when it went in, it was just a huge shock. And I was so happy.”

Midway through the second half, Winders, a center back, gave the Panthers some breathing room with her first goal of the season.

After receiving a pass from senior Madison VanAssche just inside the left portion of the 18-yard box, Winders turned and fired a right-footed rocket past diving Everett goalkeeper Annie Fowler and into the lower-left corner of the net for a 61st-minute goal that gave Snohomish a 2-0 cushion.

“It was awesome to have one of my center backs come in and put the second goal away, which took a lot of pressure off us heading into the last part (of the match),” VanAssche said.

Everett enters the postseason as Wesco 3A’s No. 8 seed and will travel to face sixth-seeded Marysville Pilchuck in a loser-out district play-in match Thursday.

The Seagulls (9-6-1, 5-6-1) have suffered six shutout losses in their last seven matches.

“I thought it was really evenly played,” Everett coach Kosta Pitharoulis said of the match. “Snohomish put away their opportunities, and unfortunately we didn’t.

“Unfortunately, our season, that’s kind of been the story. We’ve had some really good games against really tough competition, and we just haven’t come out on top.”

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