SNOHOMISH — After a state tournament-opening match when goals came in bunches and possession heavily tilted in Snohomish’s favor, the Panthers were left chasing Redmond throughout their state quarterfinal matchup.
“I can say with confidence that I don’t think we settled into a rhythm of possession the entire match,” Panthers coach Matt Raney said. “Hats off to them. They kept the ball and moved the ball well. When you spend that much time chasing, when you do get the ball, you spend a lot of time panicking, rather than settling in.”
For the third time this season, Snohomish was held scoreless. The shutout came three days removed from a seven-goal state tournament win over Mount Tahoma.
Facing a stingy Redmond defense and an attack that methodically built and hardly lost possession, Raney said his Panthers needed to be perfect Friday night.
“Despite the incredible growth all season long from us, perfection is a very tough goal to set for yourself,” Raney admitted
Indeed. And, while the effort and want-to was visible, the Panthers made far too many mistakes to obtain perfect play.
Snohomish allowed a goal 10 minutes in, Redmond scored twice within a three-minute period early in the second half and the Panthers suffered a season-ending 4-0 loss at Veterans Memorial Stadium.
The defeat snapped Snohomish’s streak of five consecutive state semifinal appearances, and the loss was the first for the Panthers (15-4-1) since a March 27 defeat to Marysville Pilchuck.
Still, for a team whose expectations weren’t as high this season, Raney said reaching the quarterfinals for the sixth straight year was quite the accomplishment.
“There is so much to celebrate tonight,” Raney said. “These statistician who put these things together had us ranked No. 24 in state. We are in the elite eight, and congratulations to (our) guys for overperforming. Nobody thought they were capable of it, and they win the division, (district) and had an excellent first-round state match.”
To Redmond’s credit, Mustangs coach Lacy Wilkinson knew his side had to play its best to leave Snohomish with a win, and Redmond played nearly flawless.
“We put together a really good game tonight,” Wilkinson said. “We’ve had times within games that we have put this together. We’ve had moments we have done this, but we haven’t done it for long periods. We put them on their heels a little bit and didn’t let up.”
That pressure came from the opening kickoff.
Redmond was rewarded for their crisp early passing and patient buildup in the 10th minute when Martin Dadzie gave the Mustangs a 1-0 lead. Dadzie, from the left, dribbled into open space and let a low shot fly 15 yards out from the middle of the field. His shot tucked just inside the near post. Snohomish goalkeeper Michael Herrera got a hand on the ball, but was unable to knock it out.
While Redmond’s attack created several first-half scoring chances, the Panthers struggled to posses. Arguably Snohomish’s best look came late in the first half when Conner Smith stole the ball from a Mustangs defender before working a give-and-go with Owen Fielder. Smith got in behind Redmond’s backline, but he was forced into a tough angle, and Redmond goalkeeper Ricardo Escalante easily saved Smith’s hard-struck shot.
Snohomish’s comeback chances took a precipitous drop 12 minutes into the second half.
In the 59th minute, Redmond’s Reece Wiyrick blasted a free kick from 45 yards out. Herrera charged forward to catch the ball mid-air, but the ball slipped through his hands and landed in front of the Panthers’ goal. A scrum followed, and the Mustangs’ Victor Araujo poked the ball into the back of the net to give Redmond a 2-0 advantage.
Minutes later that lead grew to 3-0.
This time Redmond’s Jacen Stein received a cross from Angel Hernandez wide open in front of the Panthers’ goal. He easily put the ball past Herrera, and with 28 minutes to play Snohomish’s semifinal hopes had nearly dissolved.
“From a scoreline, it’s devastating,” said Raney of Snohomish yielding two goals three minutes apart. “But if you watch the body language of our guys, it didn’t faze them. Their heads were up, the fight was still on, they hunt for a goal was on. Even in the dying minutes of the game, they were still clinging to hope.”
Wiyrick capped the Mustang’s big night, extending Redmond’s lead to 4-0 in the 64th minute, beating Herrera with shot in the upper-right corner of goal off a penalty kick
“I told the boys before the game, ‘You are going to start hitting on all cylinders, and when you do, you will be shocked,’” Wilkinson said. “They are a really good team. This was not an easy game. We knew coming into this game we were going to have a battle and be really on top of it.”