SNOHOMISH — Sometimes you just have to tip your cap to the other team.
The Snohomish Panthers struggled to generate many chances with their physical, counter-attacking style and fell, 2-0, to Holy Names Academy in the first round of the 3A state playoffs on Wednesday at Veterans Memorial Stadium.
“It definitely wasn’t for a lack of effort,” Panthers coach April VanAssche said. “I’m proud of my girls. I think our feet just weren’t working right on some of their stuff tonight, but they left it all out there. Holy Names is a good team, they put pressure on us when they needed (to). It just wasn’t our night.”
The loss to the Cougars snaps a seven-game winning streak for Snohomish. After starting the season, 1-3-1, the Panthers won 13 of their last 14 games to advance to the first round of the state playoffs.
“I think that shows great leadership from my seniors,” VanAssche said. “They deserved every bit of their success this season and I’m happy they made it to state their senior year. Not the night we wanted to go out, but they just did a great job this season of leading.”
The Cougars struck early in the second half for the game’s first goal, as senior midfielder Malia Hanson buried a free kick int the upper right-hand corner of the goal from about 29 yards out in the 42nd minute to put Holy Names up 1-0.
“That was definitely game-changing,” Holy Names head coach Julianna Sackeyfio said. “We were knocking on the door the whole time but that just hit it home that we had to continue to work.”
The Cougars tacked on to their lead as sophomore midfielder Lucy Parkhurst connected on a shot from outside the box in the 54th minute.
“They took their time when they had their opportunities and put two away, which is something that we couldn’t quite do tonight, which is something we have not struggled with lately,” VanAssche said. “That’s kind of a bummer from that standpoint.”
Winning 50-50 balls was the key for Holy Names.
“They did really well winning it in the air and we couldn’t keep up sometimes,” senior Taylor Khorrami said.
Holy Names outshot Snohomish 9-4 in the first half, but either squandered quality chances or were stymied by Snohomish goalkeeper Cheyenne Rodgers, who made five saves. Cougars’ senior Lulu Duffy pushed a penalty kick left of the goal after a Panther foul just inside the 18-yard box in the 19th minute.
The Cougars left the game equally impressed with the team on the field as the one they watched on video.
“They’re a strong team,” Sackeyfio said. “They are definitely not to be taken lightly. They’re physical, they’re fast and they come at you quick. Their counter is tough to compete with, but they definitely battled us.”
Holy Names (14-6-1) advances to the quarterfinals and will take on Seattle Prep. The Panthers’ season ended at 14-5-1.
It was a bittersweet ending for Snohomish’s seniors — goalkeeper Elle Everett, defenders Delaney Kaysner and Maileena Dicken, midfielder Rachel Groome and Khorrami: Bitter because it ended but sweet because of how far the Panthers came this season.
“All together, we played as a family,” Khorrami said. “It was one of the best games we’ve played together, even though we lost.”