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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Panthers a product of coach’s patience

When it matters most, hard work is paying off for the Mead girls soccer team.

Five weeks ago, the Panthers were 3-5 after dropping their first two games in Greater Spokane League play; now they’re one game from a return trip to state, thanks partly to the patience of coach Kevin Houston.

“I have a philosophy and a style of play that I want us to play with,” said Houston, who was content to let his young team learn the hard way to “possess the ball, anticipate and think ahead.”

“Then they started putting things together, and now the girls have more confidence in their play and themselves,” said Houston, whose Panthers showed all of that on Saturday in a 2-0 win at defending state champion Central Valley in the District title game.

Houston said the seeds of that win were sown a week earlier in a 1-0 loss to CV “that showed the girls … that we’re just as good as they are,” said Houston, who lost eight starters and 12 letter winners from last year’s state semifinal team.

Along the way, the Panthers (11-6) have gotten big performances at both ends of the field. Junior forward Alex Chambers has 12 goals and seven assists; sophomore Katie Greene has two assists and seven goals, including the eventual match-winner at CV.

Meanwhile, senior goalkeeper Ashlyn Juul has 57 saves.

Here’s a roundup of upcoming regional soccer action:

4A: Mead travels to Richland today for a 6 p.m. match that will decide the regional championship. The winner advances directly to state, while the loser will play Saturday in a winner-to-state, loser-out match.

Also today, University (11-4) is at Chiawana of Pasco in a loser-out game. If the Titans win, they’ll play at Central Valley in another loser-out affair on Thursday; should Chiawana prevail, it will host CV, also on Thursday. The winner of that game will play the Mead-Richland loser on Saturday.

3A: GSL runner-up Mt. Spokane (13-3) faces Southridge of Kennewick (14-3) in the regional title game today at 5:30 p.m. at Spokane Falls Community College. The winner advances to state, while the loser will face either Shadle Park or Kamiakin on Saturday for another state berth.

Shadle Park (5-10) and Kamiakin (13-3-1) play a loser-out game today at 4 p.m. at Albi Stadium.

2A: The district title is up for grabs today at Great Northern League champion West Valley, which faces East Valley at 3 p.m.

The winner will host either Selah or East Valley of Yakima in regional action on Saturday; the loser visits Ephrata or Ellensburg.

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