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Mead’s Nick Hamer, left, and Spencer Button, right, clamp down on Ferris’ Alec Cutter at Albi Stadium on Tuesday. (Jesse Tinsley)

Panthers ride defense to district championship

With victory, Mead earns top seed to regional tournament

Mead’s Jake Gilbertson knew that if he could get enough air under a pass to Jordan Etten, it would be enough to free up his teammate for a shot.

Sure enough, Gilbertson lifted a pass near the 50-yard line and led Etten just enough as he settled the ball in time to chip a shot from 15 yards out that cleared the arms of oncoming Ferris goalie Nick Stebbins and bounded into an unguarded goal with just under 13 minutes left in the first half.

It was all Mead needed as the Panthers defended their District 8 4A boys soccer championship, shutting out Ferris 1-0 on Tuesday at Albi Stadium.

Both teams advance to regionals. Mead (13-2-0) will play host to the Columbia Basin Big Nine No. 4 seed Wenatchee and Ferris (10-6-1) will welcome the CBBN No. 3 seed Walla Walla. Both games will be Saturday at Albi. The Ferris/Walla Walla match is tentatively set for noon, followed by the Mead/Wenatchee match at 2:30.

Central Valley (12-2-0) also earned a regional berth, stopping Gonzaga Prep (9-6-1) 1-0 in overtime in a loser-out match. CV travels to CBBN No. 2 Pasco on Saturday.

All regional winners Saturday advance to state.

Mead 1, Ferris 0: The Panthers outshot the Saxons 10-2.

But Ferris didn’t have a legitimate scoring opportunity, thanks largely to the Panthers’ four defenders – Colin Shockman, Mike Lewis, Spencer Button and Zack Lutz – and goalie Curtis Hill, who was a vacuum on anything loose in the box.

“We only gave up three goals in league so I’m very happy with another shutout,” Mead coach Matt Stueckle said.

“The back four played extremely well defending the league’s leading scorer (Alec Cutter). And we defended Isaac Peters well. He’s very good in the air and I thought we dealt with him very well.”

The victory allowed Mead to avenge a 1-0 loss to Ferris in league.

“I was glad we won because the last time was a controversial win with the handball,” Gilbertson said.

Most of the Panthers’ serious opportunities came in the first half.

Stueckle applauded Etten’s athletic goal.

“Jordan made that long run along the back line and Jake just dumped it over the top,” Stueckle said. “With Jordan’s speed no one is going to catch up with him there. The keeper came out a little too early and Jordan got the ball and lofted it over the top.”

Ferris coach Robin Crain thought both teams played well.

“Mead had more chances, but our kids played hard,” Crain said. “We had chances that were dangerous, but not a lot of shots. One mistake where we didn’t communicate in the back cost us. Otherwise our defense has been solid all year.”

Stueckle said all three Greater Spokane League teams could fare well Saturday.

“Hopefully, as we go into regionals all three of us will represent the league well,” he said.

Central Valley 1, Gonzaga Prep 0 (OT): T.J. Del Medico scored from 25 yards out on a free kick with 10 seconds remaining in the first overtime at Albi.

CV coach Andres Monrroy said his team, especially Del Medico, practiced such a free kick during warmups.

“I had a feeling it might happen,” Monrroy said. “Soccer many times comes down to free kicks.”

Del Medico’s shot hooked around a wall of Bullpups and into the right corner of the goal.

“Gonzaga Prep played really well,” Monrroy said. “We passed well, but just couldn’t finish.”