BELLINGHAM - In Christian Chala's heart, he considered a power-packed kick by Quinn Carpenter "definitely an assist," even though technically it was not.
In Carpenter's mind, he called a remarkably executed long kick by Arne Peterson "a perfect ball, a perfect assist," and so it was on a header goal by Carpenter.
Both goals wound up being noteworthy stories in Squalicum's 2-0 Northwest Conference win over Sedro-Woolley in nasty conditions on Thursday, April 17, at Whatcom Community College in a match-up of the league's last two teams with unbeaten overall records.
Halfway through the conference season, the league-leading Storm (8-0-2, 6-0 NWC) more than proved their mettle against the Cubs (8-1-1, 4-1-1 NWC), who were third at Class 2A state last season and have similar potential.
Five minutes into the second half, with Cubs goalkeeper Michael Moser already having logged six saves, the Storm found a way to snap a scoreless tie with a goal that Moser had no chance to stop.
Peterson found himself with a free kick on the right side, not far from midfield. He could not have booted a more perfect ball and Carpenter, on the dead run, headed the kick into the goal.
"That was a set piece. The wind was so strong that I didn't think I had a chance to score," Peterson said. "Quinn played that kick perfectly."
It was the third goal of the season for Carpenter, who entered the fray late in the first half.
"I didn't start the season in the shape I should have been in," said Carpenter, explaining why such a quick player is a reserve.
But Carpenter said he is getting there in terms of playing time, and proved it with the dramatic way he scored on a header.
"That was absolutely a perfect ball from Arne," Carpenter, a junior, said of the talented senior midfield leader.
Twenty minutes later, Chala scored on a deflection off Moser, who earned his ninth and final save on the play when Carpenter hit a boomer that threatened to turn into a goal before the tough goalie deflected the ball.
Chala, however, was right there to immediately turn the deflection into a goal, his sixth of the season. That puts him well on a pace to possibly double his total of seven goals last season as a junior.
"Quinn made my goal possible with his shot," Chala said. "To me, that was an assist. Quinn was just outstanding today."
Six NWC Class 2A teams came into the day with winning records, so Chala said he realizes the Storm must constantly be at the top of its game, even though Squalicum came into the season as the league favorite.
"We realize we can be beaten by anyone in our league if we don't play well," said Chala, who brings an intensity that is tough to overcome.
As usual, the Storm's backline of seniors Hans Kogan, Conner Stevens and Chad Stevenson and junior B.J. James proved more than worthy. Senior goalkeeper Trenton Langer was called on to make only two saves, both in the first half.
"Sedro-Woolley has a lot of very dangerous forwards," said Storm coach Joe McAuliffe, praising his defense. "I'm glad our ratio (of goals scored to goals allowed) is becoming much better."
Longtime Cubs coach Gary Warman said he went for broke in the second half.
"We weren't going to settle for a 1-0 loss. We moved our players up (and got off a half-dozen shots in the second half)," he said. "We were either going to get a tie or a win, or we were going to lose going away."
The Cubs played without one of their most dangerous threats, senior forward Isaac Swenson, who began serving a three-game suspension because of a red card. He won't face playoff hopeful Bellingham on Monday, either, Warman said.
Squalicum's other mids - Zachary Wallace, Brandon Burbank and B.J. Flood - also did a solid job controlling play and providing chances for Chala and fellow senior striker Gabe Bacco-Guidroz.
In all, the Storm took 16 shots toward the goal, which was admirably defended by Moser. He had given up only three goals before the Storm struck.
But on this wind-swept, chilly, rainy day, the Storm's A game graded out best.
SQUALICUM 2, SEDRO-WOOLLEY 0
Goal: Quinn Carpenter; assist: Arne Peterson; time: 45; goal: Christian Chala; time: 65. Shots on goal: Squalicum 16, Sedro-Woolley 7. Goalkeepers (saves): Sedro-Woolley: Michael Moser (9); Squalicum: Trenton Langer (2).