ABERDEEN — Entering the 2011 prep soccer season the Snake River Panthers knew that they had a chance at winning the district title. The Panthers did just that on Wednesday evening as they knocked off their bitter rivals, American Falls 2-0 to claim the trophy and the bid into next weeks state tournament.
"This was a better game as far as play goes," Snake River head coach Trevor Peterson said. "I am just real proud of the guys, they came out and executed, kept their heads and just played our game today."
About the only question mark so far this season was which of the talented trio of goal keepers were the Panthers going to play in goal. For the championship match, coach Peterson went with a two headed attack with Andy Garcia playing the first half and Eddy Frutos playing the second half in a strategy that produced a blank sheet against the Beavers.
"All season long we've gotten strong keeper play from Andy, Eddy and Leo [Arredondo] and we came into today's game with the game plan of playing Andy and Eddy right from the get go," Coach Peterson said.
Granted, the keepers didn't get much work on Wednesday night in large part to the stellar play of the defensive back line led by Shaun Turpin, Bradley Cruz and Adam Ortiz.
"Our defense was real solid tonight," Coach Peterson said. "American Falls played a strong game but we were able to move the ball and pick our spots."
Despite having multiple chances for a first half score heading into the wind in the first half, American Falls was able to turn the Panthers away leading to a 0-0 tie heading into the break.
Snake River wasted little time taking the lead however as a freshman, Isaac Martinez was able to put a right foot on a corner kick from Michael Smith just forty-two seconds into the second half. That well placed shot went past a diving Beaver keeper, just inside the near post for the 1-0 lead.
"I told the guys at half time to just keep their heads and go out and put some goals away quick," Coach Peterson said. "They were able to make some quick, easy passes and they just came out and played like they knew how. They really did a great job."
Andy Garcia salted the win away in the 66th minute of play when he ripped a shot top shelf for the 2-0 lead and as the time ticked away in the championship match, the Panthers then played a simple game of keep away, holding the Beavers at arms length through the final whistle.
Snake River will open their state tournament at Vallivue next Thursday.