PUYALLUP, Wash. – Connor Ourada didn’t want it to end.
Even as the Snohomish players raised the State 4A soccer championship trophy, the Ferris midfielder stopped at the edge of the field, sat down and soaked it all in: an 18-3 record, one of the most successful seasons in school history and a near-miss run at the state title.
“I’m just so proud of these guys – we didn’t give up,” said Ourada, one of 10 seniors on the Ferris roster, after the Saxons fell 2-1 in the title game at Sparks Field.
Just as they did the night before in a 3-2 semifinal win over Skyview, the Saxons clawed back, but the hole was too deep and the Snohomish defense too solid.
“The kids played with a lot of heart, they battled and battled, and we had some great chances in the second half,” said Ferris coach Robin Crain, who coached the Saxons to a state title in 1998 and now has three runner-up finishes.
In a season that doled out a big serving of seconds – the Saxons also were runners-up in the Greater Spokane League, district and regionals – this one was the toughest to digest. Against a patient, methodical Snohomish team, the Saxons made too many mistakes in a first half that Ourada admitted “wasn’t competitive enough.”
After hitting the crossbar in the fourth minute, Snohomish (20-2) struck barely a minute later. Amid a scramble in the goalmouth, Panthers forward Tanner Corrie hit a floater that nestled over Ferris goalkeeper Alex Pells and just under the crossbar.
In the 20th minute, the Saxons were beaten by one of their own weapons: the long throw-in. From 20 yards, Snohomish defender Blake Crutchfield heaved a long throw that Pells mishandled at the apex of his leap. The ball grazed over Pells’ gloves and into the net for what turned out to be the winning goal.
Even more frustrating was the Saxons’ inability to build attacks against a big, physical Snohomish defense and a Panthers midfield that dominated possession. Too often, the Saxons’ only offense was the long ball served up to Terry Cox, who usually faced three defenders.
Ferris managed just two shots on goal in the first half, compared to five for Snohomish.
“We tried to force it too much,” Ourada said.
Trailing 2-0, the Saxons almost fell behind further in the 43rd minute, but Pells made a save in a breakaway situation, and 4 minutes later he punched away a chip shot.
Snohomish missed a golden chance in the 63rd minute, but a three-on-one break was snuffed by Pells, who finished with four saves.
One minute later, the Saxons’ Jonathan Galgalo scored on a free kick by Ourada. Rejuvenated, they pressed the attack, and came within inches of tying the match when a Matt Beaulaurier throw-in was tapped toward goal.
The ball rolled onto the line, but was plucked away at the last instant by keeper Ryan Peters.
“Even with their size, we had some good chances with our set pieces in the second half,” said Crain, whose team outshot Snohomish 6-3 in the second half.