CALDWELL – The Snake River Panthers took a big step towards a 3A state championship on Friday afternoon as they turned in a convincing performance against perennial soccer power Payette with a 6-1 victory.
“The guys just came out and killed it today,” Snake River head coach Trevor Peterson said. “They came out and played an awesome game and I couldn’t be happier.”
Snake River drew first blood in the game in the eighteenth minute of play when a Payette player was called for an intentional hand ball on a ball that was heading for an open goal on a corner kick.
The play resulted in a pair of positives for the Panthers. First the awarded penalty kick, of which Andy Garcia wasted little time with a perfectly placed ball and a 1-0 lead. Secondly, the automatic red card on the Payette player which led to an ejection and a Payette squad that then had to play with just ten players for the remaining 60 minutes of the game.
“I thought that when they got down to just 10 players that they tried to play a more defensive game,” Coach Peterson said. “While we knew that they were down a man I think that the guys did a good job of keeping up the pressure on them and not letting down at all. Sometimes you can have a let down when something like that happens but I was proud of the way that our guys never let up.”
Payette was able to play fairly solid throughout the remainder of the first half, leading to a 1-0 score at the break. Out of the break, Snake River turned in yet another dominating second half. Just as they did in their opening round game, Snake River pounded the net with regularity in Friday’s contest as they lit up the Payette squad for 5 second half goals.
Cooper Peterson notched a pair in the half while Garcia added two more for a natural hat trick on the afternoon.
Senior Luis Atriano also tickled the twine in the back of the net as Snake River cruised into today’s state title game with the five goal victory.
Snake River’s opponent is well known to the Panthers as they will face off with Mountain River’s Conference member Teton. Snake River swept the season series with the Redskins but today’s contest will be for much higher stakes, a fact that has not gone unnoticed by the Panthers.
“I don’t think that we can look at the Teton team that we beat earlier this year,” Coach Peterson said. “Obviously they have stepped up their game and we can’t just take the field and expect them to roll over. The kids are ready though and if we just go out and play our game we’ll be in good shape.”
The title game will kick off at 1 P.M. at Syringa Middle School in Caldwell.