Squalicum girls' soccer coach David Kish provided two reasons for the Storm's brilliant postseason run, which includes a 5-0 record, a plus-11 goal differential, a Northwest District title and a Class 2A State Playoff final four berth.
One, the Storm now believe in its talent. Two, Kish said his team is full of selfless players who will do anything for a win.
"First of all, we play as a team," Kish said. "We have 11 solid girls on that field and a bench that can also play well, so every time we play, we are playing with a full squad of talented girls. That benefits us. The second thing is belief. You can see it in the girls."
Kish saw his club play with conviction during the second half of Squalicum's 4-1 win against Hockinson in the state quarterfinals.
"We kind of (hurt) ourselves in the first half, and it was 1-1," Kish said. "As soon as we went out in the second half, we said, 'We are going to win this.' We unloaded three goals in five minutes."
Squalicum will be looking for similar second-half play when it faces Sumner in the Class 2A State semifinals at 6 p.m. Friday, Nov. 16, at Shoreline Stadium.
Kish gave credit to senior captains Andrea DeVere and Lauren Wallace for harvesting a team-oriented culture within the club.
Sophomores Michelle Saunders and Jackie Dierdorff are textbook examples of Squalicum's commitment to team play.
Saunders, a fixture in the midfield, entered this season nursing a broken left leg she suffered in December 2011 during an indoor soccer match. She was sidelined for three months while rehabbing. Dierdorff, one-fourth of the Storm's stingy back line that has allowed just nine goals, has been dealing with a nagging ankle sprain all season.
The common denominator: both players have put their injuries aside to become mainstays in Squalicum's starting lineup.
"It doesn't hurt during games," said Saunders of her leg injury. "There are times I get home when it is super sore and I have to ice. There's times where I just need to take a break for a week. It just gets sore, but I don't really think about it anymore."
It's good for Squalicum she doesn't.
Kish said, without hesitation, if Saunders wasn't available, the Storm wouldn't be where they are.
"She is an exceptionally strong player," said the Squalicum coach. "She is really good at winning balls. She is really good defensively and starts our attack as it goes downfield. She sacrifices her body all the time. Even this year against Sedro-Woolley, she got a concussion because she put her body out there. She needed to win the ball and she did."
Saunders doesn't mind using an ice pack or applying a few postgame bandages as long as she's helping her team win.
"I just know that if I don't give it my all, it will fall apart in the middle," Saunders said. "I feel that if one player isn't doing their part, it will all fall apart, and I don't want to be that one person, so If I put everything out there, it should work. Even if you get a few bumps or bruises, it doesn't matter if your team wins."
Dierdorff has embraced a similar attitude with a severe ankle sprain she suffered while playing for the Whatcom Rangers club soccer team during the summer before 2012 fall sports season began. The first month with the Storm, Dierdorff heavily bandaged her injury with tape every practice and game. She then went to an ankle brace and has recently been playing without any brace or tape.
After logging plenty of minutes her freshman year, Dierdorff has joined seniors Andrea DeVere and Lauren Wallace, as well as freshman Rachel Dorr, to form statistically the top defense in the Northwest Conference.
"(Dierdorff) is another girl that is all about the team," Kish said. "She really works hard at her position. She really gels well with the girls. On top of that, she has that desire. She wants to play well, and she knows, for her team, she has to be out on that field, so she'll get taped if she needs to. She'll get a brace if she needs to. She doesn't want crutches. She wants to be the best player she can be."
Adding to Saunders' and Dierdorff's ability to manage their injuries, they have proven to be players who let their games speak for themselves. The duo's on-field personality makes them easy teammates to work with.
"Playing with people over the years, you know those people who are easy to play with because of the way they play and how they are really positive with each other," Dierdorff said. "I'm sure Michelle has taken to that, too. That's how we want to be - those easy teammates everyone can look to and talk to if you have any problems or questions."
The strong communication Saunders and Dierdorff have generated will certainly be beneficial in the final four.
Kish said he wants Squalicum to focus on playing its game come Friday, rather than paying attention to what Sumner is doing.
Given Squalicum's new-found confidence, Kish thinks there's not a 2A team in the state who can stop them, as long as the Storm plays to its ability.
"I think our confidence has just gone up," Dierdorff said. "I think the whole year we have struggled with knowing our abilities as a team, so I think it was cool to finally realize it and to be able to go out there with confidence that we can beat these teams."
If Squalicum leaves Shoreline over the weekend with a pair of wins, it will have done much more than maxed out its confidence. It will have claimed its first girls' soccer state title in school history.
Reach Andrew Lang at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 360-756-2862.
FRIDAY'S STATE SOCCER PLAYOFFS
CLASS 2A STATE SEMIFINALS
? Squalicum vs. Sumner (at Shoreline Stadium), 6 p.m.
? Sehome vs. West Valley Yakima (at Shoreline Stadium), 8 p.m.
SQUALICUM'S 2012 RESULTS (19-1-1), (11-1-0)
Sept. 6 Sehome (Civic) T 2-2
Sept. 8 Ferndale (WCC) W 3-0
Sept. 13 Burlington-Edison (Civic)* W 2-0
Sept. 18 Lynden (Civic)* W 6-0
Sept. 20 at Sehome (Civic)* L 1-0
Sept. 22 at Bellingham (WCC) W 3-0
Sept. 25 at Meridian* W 3-0
Sept. 27 Bellingham (Civic)* W 1-0
Sept. 29 at Jackson (Everett Memorial) W 2-0
Oct. 2 at Sedro-Woolley* W 8-0
Oct. 4 Nooksack Valley (Civic)* W 8-0
Oct. 9 at Blaine (Pipeline)* W 4-1
Oct. 11 at Ferndale* W 4-0
Oct. 16 Mount Baker (Northwest)* W 4-0
Oct. 18 at Lynden Christian* W 8-1
Oct. 22 Anacortes (Civic)* W 3-0
CLASS 2A DISTRICT TOURNAMENT
Oct. 27 Lake Washington (at Civic Stadium) W 2-1 (SO)
Oct. 30 at Archbishop Murphy (at King's) W 2-1
Nov. 1 Sehome W 2-1
CLASS 2A STATE TOURNAMENT
Nov. 7 Fife W 6-0
Nov. 10 Hockinson W 4-1
Nov. 16 Sumner 6 p.m.
SQUALICUM'S SCORING LEADERS
Goals Asst. Points
Kim Hazlett 19 7 45
Lauren Gibb 12 7 31
Kim Dorr 11 5 27
Gracie Slater 4 11 19
Sarah Byron 6 4 16
Julia DeVere 3 8 14
Leigha Schjelderup 5 2 12
Lauren Wallace 3 5 11
Rachel Dorr 2 3 7
Jackie Dierdorff 2 2 6
Zoe Peterson 3 0 6
Lizzy Herda 2 1 5
Andrea DeVere 1 2 4
Michelle Saunders 1 1 3
Summer Allen 1 0 2
Lauren Eckert 0 2 2
SQUALICUM'S 2012 ROSTER
No. Player Yr. Pos.
1 Kim Hazlett Fr. F
2 Julia DeVere So. M
3 Lauren Wallace Sr. D
4 Jackie Dierdorff So. D
5 Leigha Schjelderup Sr. M
6 Andrea DeVere Sr. M
7 Michelle Saunders So. M
8 Zoe Peterson Sr. F
9 Gracie Slater Jr. F
10 Lauren Gibb Jr. M
12 Sarah Byron So. F
13 Payton McNally So. D
14 Rachel Dorr Fr. D
15 Lizzy Herda Jr. M
16 Kim Dorr Fr. M
17 Summer Allen Sr. D
19 Shelby Spooner So. GK
61 Lauren Eckert Jr. GK
Reach ANDREW LANG at email@example.com or call ext. 862.