BELLINGHAM - Being that this was the first time in school history that the Squalicum girls' soccer team had made it to the state quarterfinals, let alone its first trip to the state playoffs in nine years, there was a little bit of a confidence issue for the Storm on Saturday, Nov. 10.
Do we really belong here? Are we really this good?
It may have taken the entire first half and a few minutes of the second, but the Storm answered those questions with a resounding yes.
Squalicum scored three goals in a three-minute, 40-second span early in the second half to break open a tied game with Hockinson and emerge with a 4-1 victory in the quarterfinals of the Class 2A State Tournament.
"I think we played a lot more confident in the second half," said junior midfielder Lauren Gibb, who recorded the first and third goals in Squalicum's second-half scoring spurt off assists from freshmen sisters Kim and Rachel Dorr. "We came out and settled the ball down and just played our game."
With the victory, Squalicum (19-1-1) advances to a state semifinal showdown with Sumner in a game scheduled for 6 p.m. Friday, Nov. 16, at Shoreline Stadium.
Like unbeaten Sumner, which beat Archbishop Murphy 1-0 on Saturday, Squalicum will be making its first appearance in a state semifinal.
"It feels pretty good to know that we're making history this year," Gibb said. "It's been nine years since we last made it to state, and every year that's been the goal. We're leaving our mark on this program, and we're winning for all the alumni that wanted to get here. A lot of them were in the stands cheering us on today, so it was neat to win for them."
For most of the first 40 minutes, it was unclear how much cheering those alumni and any other Squalicum fans that braved the chilly temperatures on a sunny but crisp November afternoon would actually get to do.
The Storm struck first, when Kim Dorr headed the ball into the Hockinson net off a bouncing inbounds ball that it seemed like nobody could settle with 27:37 left in the first half.
That lead stood, until Aurora Bodenhamer made a nice behind-back-feed to Kavita Battan, who sent a tough-angle blast off the feet of sliding defender Rachel Dorr to knot the score at 1.
"The first 10 minutes, I thought we played pretty good," Gibb said. "We were settling the ball and getting into our game. But we kind of lost that after they scored. We started to doubt ourselves, and we got out of our game a little bit."
It took a halftime speech from coach David Kish to get the Storm back on track.
"I just reminded them why we were here," Kish said. "I reminded them that we earned everything that we had gotten so far this year, and it was up to us to go out and earn it again by playing our game."
And they did exactly that.
After holding a slim 5-3 advantage in shots on goal in the first half, Squalicum boosted that to a more Storm-like 13-0 advantage in the second half. And after earning just one corner kick opportunity in the first half, Squalicum earned eight in the second.
It didn't take long for it to show up on the scoreboard, either, as the Storm turned it first corner kick opportunity in the 45th minute into a 2-1 lead.
"Usually, I don't go to the net and try to get a header on a goal," Gibb said. "Usually, I try to stay back and get a deflection, and that's exactly what happened this time. And when I did get that chance, I kept telling myself to keep it low, because I had been high with it in warm-ups."
Gibb sent her low blast into the lower corner, and Squalicum immediately seemed to have all the confidence in the world.
Sarah Byron added a goal off an assist from Julia DeVere just over two minutes later, before Rachel Dorr made a nice touch pass to Gibb to set up a breakaway and a 4-1 lead for the Storm.
"It was a nice pass over the top," Gibb said. "Their No. 10 (Kelsey McVicker) played my front shoulder, and when I got beyond her, I just took it and tried to put a shot on net."
While the scoring burst proved to be the difference on the scoreboard, Squalicum certainly wouldn't be looking at its first trip to the semifinals without another fine game from its defense.
After allowing only one shot in a 6-0 victory over Fife in the first-round, the Storm permitted only three to make it through to goalie Lauren Eckert on Saturday.
"They've been really strong for us all year," Kish said. "We have capable defenders at all four spots. A lot of teams, you can find at least one area to try to break teams down, but we just don't have one. All four girls have played really well for us."
With defense like that, and an offense capable of putting plenty on opposing defenses, there's no reason the Storm should wonder if they belong anymore.
"Our confidence is great now," Gibb said. "We believe in ourselves, but we're not overconfident. We need to play our game."
Reach David Rasbach at email@example.com or 360-715-2286.
SQUALICUM 4, HOCKINSIN 1
Scoring: Goal: Kim Dorr (Squalicum), time: 13th minute. Goal: Kavita Battan (Hockinson), assist: Aurora Bodenhamer, time: 25th minute. Goal: Lauren Gibb (Squalicum), assist: Kim Dorr, time: 44th minute. Goal: Sarah Byron (Squalicum), assist: Julia DeVere, time: 46th minute. Goal: Lauren Gibb (Squalicum), assist: Rachel Dorr, time: 51st minute. Shots: Hockinson 3, Squalicum 12. Goalies (saves): Hockinson Baylee Smith (4), Isabella Koenig (4); Squalicum Lauren Eckert (2).
Reach DAVID RASBACH at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 715-2271.