The Central Valley boys soccer team entered the state title match undefeated through its 19 games this season, posting back-to-back shutouts to reach the finals for the first time in school.
However, a barrage of goals midway through the second half showed you’re going to need more than perfection to wrestle away the crown from Snohomish.
The Panthers scored three quick goals all on long throw-ins over a 10-minute span to become the first team in more than a decade to win back-to-back State 4A championships. Snohomish defeated Central Valley 3-1 in the final Saturday at Sparks Stadium in Puyallup.
“We saw last night (in the semifinals) Snohomish does a nice job scoring off set pieces,” Central Valley coach Andres Monrroy said. “We knew they were coming. We just didn’t stop them.”
Despite the loss, the Bears concluded the best season in school history with a 19-1 record and a second-place finish.
“Losing today takes nothing away from what this team accomplished all season,” said Monrroy, who has also guided the CV girls soccer team to consecutive state championships. “I am just so proud of this group. The seniors have been amazing all season. They really have left an incredible legacy here.”
Snohomish, winner of 13 straight matches, finishes the year with a record of 19-2-1.
The Panthers become the fifth program in state history to win consecutive 4A state titles, joining Decatur (2001-02), Eastlake (1996-97), Mountain View (1991-93) and Jefferson, which won four straight titles between 1983 and 1986.
Sophomore Noah Whitman got the Bears on the scoreboard first with his goal in the 19th minute.
The goal was unassisted, as Whitman found the back of the net from the right angle off a deflection.
The tally was enough to give Central Valley a 1-0 lead at the intermission.
“I thought the first half we were able to play our style and control the pace and possessions,” Monrroy said. “I was very pleased going into the half with the one-goal lead.”
One goal was all the Bears needed to put away Pasco in the quarterfinals and Wenatchee in the semifinals as Central Valley registered back-to-back 1-0 shutouts behind the stellar play of senior goalkeeper Andrew Enzler.
The Panthers proved to be a different breed, however, unaffected by the early deficit.
Snohomish faced a similar situation against Inglemoor in the semifinals, trailing 2-1 at the break before scoring twice in the second half to win 3-2.
The defending state champions once again showed their resiliency, scoring three times beginning with Brennan Judy’s header from Josh Dombal’s throw-in in the 58th minute.
Hal Uderitz tapped in the eventual winner following a scramble in front of the goal in the 65th minute, while Kristian Barney capped the scoring with his header in the 68th minute, pushing the Panthers’ lead to 3-1.
Snohomish, which also claimed state titles in 2006 and 2000, outshot Central Valley 8-6 and held a 5-2 advantage on corner kicks.
Cameron Beardsley, who replaced Alex Fairhurst after the senior gave up the goal to Whitman, made a pair of saves.
The Bears graduate six seniors, including Enzler, Gabe Grabowski, and forward Brian Choate, who finished with three shots against Snohomish, but return a solid core of players next year.
“I fully expect us to be back here a year from now,” Monrroy said. “We lose an exceptional group of seniors, but welcome a lot of talent back. They will be motivated.”
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