How does it feel to be named best in the nation?
“My initial reaction is, ‘Wow!’ ” said Dan Pingrey, head coach of the newly honored Snohomish High School boys soccer team.
On Tuesday, Pingrey learned that the Panthers are ranked No. 1 in the country in the latest National Soccer Coaches Association of America/adidas poll. Snohomish, which moved up from No. 4, was 12-0 through last week and won its first dozen games by a combined score of 62-5.
The Panthers also top the Region V poll (Washington, California and Alaska). Their main Western Conference North Division rivals, the Lake Stevens Vikings, are No. 2 in the Region V poll. The teams play at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Lake Stevens High.
Coach Pingrey generally doesn’t pay much attention to rankings, but he said grabbing the top national spot – for what he believes is the first time in program history – is huge:
“It is really exciting, and I know the (Snohomish players) will be really excited. They deserve it. They can say that they’re ranked No. 1 in the country, and that’s pretty cool.”
Snohomish High athletic director Mark Albertine called the achievement a great honor. “Any time one of your athletic teams is ranked No. 1 in the nation, it’s exciting,” he said.
The NSCAA/adidas rankings are based on nominations from coaches and athletic director across the United States. Pingrey said Snohomish’s highest previous ranking was No. 3, which happened several years ago.
As always, Pingrey will remind the Panthers that no matter what rankings say, they must stay completely focused on the field. Now opponents have even more motivation to beat Snohomish, a powerhouse program that seeks its eighth consecutive state-tournament appearance.
“They should enjoy it,” Pingrey said, “but the reality is you have to earn it every single minute you step on the field.”
Pingrey doesn’t think they’ll let the prestigious honor become a distraction. “I’ve got good guys. They work hard. They like this (recognition) and they want to keep it,” said Pingrey.
Last season Snohomish climbed to No. 4 in the nation in the May 24, 2005 NSCAA/adidas poll. But Roosevelt eliminated the Panthers in the quarterfinals of the Class 4A state tournament and Snohomish, which won its lone state title in 2000 and was the state runnerup in 2003, fell out of the top 20 in the final rankings.
In 2004, Snohomish was 17-2-2, took third in the state tourney and was 10th in the final nationwide poll. Bellarmine Prep of Tacoma, which defeated Snohomish 2-1 in the state semifinals, finished No. 1.