PUYALLUP – This is not the most talented boys soccer team that longtime Snohomish High School head coach Dan Pingrey has directed.
But it might be his most-together and toughest-minded group.
A pair of long Blake Crutchfield throw-ins led to a pair of goals as the fifth-ranked Panthers captured the school’s third 4A state title in boys soccer with a 2-1 win over seventh-ranked Ferris of Spokane on Saturday evening in the championship match at Sparks Stadium.
Crutchfield, a junior defender, was playing despite a 103-degree fever earlier in the week and a right knee injury for the last half of the season. But he kept his dangerous trend rolling on any long throw attempt for two first-half goals, and the Panthers knuckled down on defense late.
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“We’re going to ride on this for a while,” Crutchfield said, his voice still hoarse from illness. “I was exhausted. But I just had to battle through, and keep my mind in it and just keep going.”
Snohomish (20-2) followed up 4A state titles in 2000 and 2006 under Pingrey in the school’s seventh trip to the Final Four. The Panthers were second in 2003.
Ferris made a final push in the final 20 minutes, and Snohomish junior midfielder Gus Baxter came up with a big save in the 76th minute. Baxter cleared a shot off the back line with a high left-footed kick after a long throw-in by the Saxons’ Matt Beaulaurier caused a scramble in front of the goal.
“That was scary,” Baxter said of Ferris’ best late scoring chance. “That was real close.
“This [championship] brings tears to my eyes. It feels extraordinary knowing there’s going to be a banner in the gym that says, ‘2014 Snohomish boys soccer.’”
Ferris (18-3) settled for second for the third time in school history in a bid for the school’s second title after winning in 1998. The Saxons also were second in 1997 and 2001.
The Panthers took a 1-0 lead when Tanner Corrie punched in a loose ball that was pinballing around in front of the Ferris goal in the seventh minute. Corrie got the last touch on the ball and got it over the arms of Saxons’ goalkeeper Alex Pells.
The scoring play started with a long throw-in, of about 35 yards, by Snohomish’s Blake Crutchfield. The throw-in started the frantic action in front of the goal and it resulted in Corrie’s 13th goal of the season.
Crutchfield was at it again in the 20th minute, firing a 35-yard throw-in to the middle of the goal and Pells couldn’t handle it. Crutchfield’s long throw from the right sideline slipped through Pells’ grasp and into the back of the net for an own goal.
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Senior forward Eric Ferris supplied a goal and an assist as the Storm (20-2-3) secured third place and their first trophy finish since taking the 4A title in 2012.
The Conquerors (15-4-3) avoided the shutout on Joey Alonzo’s header goal on a corner kick by Aidan Gray in the 67th minute.