BELLINGHAM - First-year Sehome varsity goalkeeper Izzy Taft was pretty in pink in his second start. In his next game, the Mariners are hoping the senior will be great in green or maybe brilliant in blue.
As Sehome coach John Sylvester put it in his own colorful way, "Izzy was simply incredible, just out of this world" in the Mariners' wild 2-1 non-league victory over Squalicum on Thursday, March 14, at Civic Stadium as the teams began the 15th year of their storied boys' soccer rivalry.
"I like my uniform to match," Taft said with a grin when asked why he chose a pink jersey to go with pink socks. "I wore blue on blue in my first start. Pink is my favorite color because it's my brother Geoff's favorite, and Geoff (a former Bellingham player) got me started in soccer."
Taft frustrated the Storm (1-1) with seven saves, including at least four of the above-average variety.
Taft - who attended Squalicum as a freshman and Bellingham as a sophomore, then played JV at Sehome last year - made his final save with less than a minute remaining.
The game was scoreless with 18 minutes remaining, although one of the key moments occurred with 30 minutes to go when Storm defensive standout Hans Kogan was ejected with a red card.
"Squalicum was impressive," Sylvester said, especially in how the Storm played the final 30 minutes a man short. "I thought they looked great. They could have won."
Sehome (2-0-1) survived, however, after the Storm's second goalie of the game, junior Trenton Langer, was called for clipping a Mariner player with less than a minute remaining.
Sehome junior Sam Diehl stepped up and booted a penalty kick into the left corner for the winning goal and his first score of the season.
The Mariners took a 1-0 lead in the 62nd minute when Charlie Linneman scored his third goal in three games, an artistic header off a pin-point corner kick by Brandon Burbank.
"Charlie's been great," Sylvester said. "And he's not the only guy we have who can score in the air."
Squalicum equalized with six minutes remaining when junior Arne Peterson - who won the Storm's first game with a goal in the final two minutes - converted a power goal into the upper right corner of the goal.
"A defender was in my way (for a second) and I just didn't see that one," said Taft, who seemed to have become the victim of a late Storm goal when the ball was kicked out of his hand. But the referee ruled Taft had possession.
"It used to be you could score that way, but you can't kick the ball out of the goalie's hands now when the referee rules the goalie has possession," Sylvester said.
The teams will have to do it all over again March 26 in their Northwest Conference meeting. Taft expressed so much confidence in his defense that he said, "I think we can get a shutout."
Sylvester was thrilled with how well his young defensive back line - Diehl, sophomore Zachary Wanne and freshmen Kiefer Thomas and Gabriel Weight - performed.
"Our defense was exceptionally solid," the veteran coach said. "The game exceeded expectations. I saw a lot of will to win, a lot of huge heart. They really made me proud against a very strong team."
Squalicum's first-half goalkeeper, senior Zach Hart, made two fine saves.
Sehome will face Bellingham at noon and Squalicum will face Ferndale at 4 p.m. on Saturday, March 16, both at Civic Stadium.
SEHOME 2, SQUALICUM 1
Scoring: Goal: Charlie Linneman (Sehome); assist: Brandon Burbank; time: 62:00; Goal: Arne Peterson (Squalicum); time: 74:00; Goal: Sam Diehl (Sehome) penalty kick; time: 79:00. Shots on goal: Sehome 6, Squalicum 10. Goalkeepers (saves): Squalicum: Zach Hart (2), Trenton Langer (2); Sehome: Izzy Taft (7).