Snohomish kicks its way to state

SNOHOMISH — Another year, another Wesco North championship for the Snohomish soccer team.

If the Panthers win again next season, head coach Dan Pingrey will have to start counting with his toes.

Snohomish wrapped up its 10th consecutive division crown with a 3-1 victory against Monroe Thursday night at Snohomish High School. The Panthers finish the regular season 13-2-1, just ahead of Marysville-Pilchuck.

“It feels good. It’s exciting that we’ve done it as many times as we have,” Pingrey said.

“We knew we would be good this season and we knew we’d have some bumps, because we had so many new players. And, to be honest, we’re still learning. But we knew we had great speed, we finish and we know how to score goals, so we expected to be in the mix and competing.”

Even with the loss, Monroe still earned the league’s fourth and final district playoff berth, thanks to a loss by Lake Stevens on Thursday.

The Bearcats made several impressive defensive plays to turn back first-half Snohomish goals, but there was simply no stopping the Panthers. They attacked efficiently and relentlessly and had three goals by halftime.

“We like to score early,” said Snohomish junior Thomas Sheets, who had both a goal and an assist. “We like to go in hard and really strong in the beginning and hopefully shut them out in the back.”

Sheets scored the Panthers’ first goal in the 15th minute on a free kick from about 20 yards out. The shot came from the extreme left side of the field and was jumped over by Snohomish’s Scott Jenks, right before it hit the net.

Thirteen minutes later, Sheets launched a long pass for Brendon Gundry, who got behind the Monroe defense and rifled a shot into the left side of the net for a 2-0 Panthers lead.

The Bearcats got on the board in the 29th minute when Chris Dunlap booted an arching shot from about 30 yards out. After being bobbled by the keeper and eventually dropped, the shot dribbled into the goal to make it 2-1.

Snohomish, though, came right back with a goal headed in by Jackson Miller in the 39th minute. Jenks picked up an assist on the play.

That made it 3-1 at halftime and made defense the name of the game for the Panthers in the second half. They performed well at that game, limiting Monroe to practically no legitimate scoring opportunities.

Pingrey said his team will now focus on winning the district championship. And he likes his team’s chances, if it can continue to handle whatever is thrown its way, the way it has all season.

“The nice thing about this bunch is there are a lot of really good players, but not any great ones,” he said. “And a lot of players have played multiple positions this season, because of injuries and sickness. They just seem to be able to do whatever is necessary.”

At Snohomish H.S.

Monroe goals — Dunlap 1. Snohomish goals — Sheets 1, Gundry 1, Miller 1. Snohomish assists — Sheets 1, Jenks 1. Goalkeepers — Snohomish Lane, MacArthur. Team records: Monroe 8-5-2 league, 8-5-2 overall. Snohomish 13-2-1, 13-2-1.

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