BELLINGHAM - Longtime Squalicum boys' soccer coach Joe McAuliffe summed up a frustrating but promising season in colorful yet accurate terms.
"We've lost every hard way there is to lose this season," he said following the Storm's 2-1 loss to Sedro-Woolley in an elimination game at the Class 2A Northwest District Tournament on Tuesday, May 7, at Civic Stadium.
Indeed, veteran Cubs coach Gary Warman agreed with McAuliffe on this night, after the loss denied the Storm a return to the state tournament.
"I thought we played better in the first half (despite trailing 1-0 at halftime) and Squalicum played better in the second half (despite Woolley's two scores)," said Warman.
The Storm (10-6-2) - a 1-0 loser to Cedarcrest in the first round - took a 1-0 lead only seconds before the end of the first half when senior Adam Smiley scored on a beautiful cross from Gabe Bacco Guidroz, who earned his 25th point of the season with the assist.
The Cubs (11-5-2) then scored twice in the second half on odd goals.
Woolley tied the game two minutes into the second half when a curving shot by sophomore Nef Camacho caromed off a Squalicum defender's leg.
"It was tough to see an own goal like that, when the ball bounced off his shin," said McAuliffe, who said he was "extremely proud with how our boys played" in response to the pressure.
Indeed, the Storm started only two seniors and the Cubs opened with only one, so these teams clearly seem to have a fine future.
The present, though, became painful for the Storm in the 52nd minute when Woolley junior Isaac Swenson scored a pretty goal on an accurate power shot off a rebound.
There was nothing that Storm goalkeeper Trenton Langer, a junior, could do about either goal.
"We have some strong sophomores and our junior class is one of the best we've had in a while," said McAuliffe, confirming he is optimistic about his program's future. "We're going to miss our six seniors."
Warman said he hated having to oust another Northwest Conference team.
"Squalicum has a strong program and the bad thing is we had to eliminate a team from our league," he said. "Our goal was to win a game at district and build from there. This team is in the top five from the standpoint of work rate that we've had."
The Cubs earned only two shots in the first half and finished with nine. Squalicum took three shots in the opening 40 minutes and wound up with seven as Cubs goalkeeper Michael Moser finished with three saves.
SEDRO-WOOLLEY 2, SQUALICUM 1
Scoring: Goal: Adam Smiley (SQ); assist: Gabe Bacco Guidroz; time: 39:00; Goal: Own goal (S-W); time: 42:00; Goal: Isaac Swenson (S-W); time: 52:00. Shots on goal: Sedro-Woolley 9, Squalicum 7. Goalkeepers (saves): Sedro-Woolley: Michael Moser (3); Squalicum: Trenton Langer (3).