BELLINGHAM - In Sehome's greatest moment of desperation, the goals simply wouldn't come.
It's been a problem all year for the Mariners' boys' soccer team, and with Sedro-Woolley clinging to a 1-0 lead in the waning moments of a loser-out, winner-to-state game on Thursday, May 15, at Civic Stadium, nothing Sehome could do proved enough.
"That just came back to haunt us," Sehome coach John Sylvester said. "We got plenty of chances where we were able to get a hit on goal. We just couldn't get that last one."
It was the third time this season Sehome faced elimination. In the two previous occasions, the Mariners responded with wins, although this time the late-season magic was stymied by an Adrian Vasquez goal in the 29th minute, sending the Cubs to the third-place game against Archbishop Murphy at 11 a.m., Saturday, May 17, at Sedro-Woolley High School.
Squalicum faces Anacortes in the Class 2A Bi-District championship game at 1 p.m. Saturday, at the same location.
And yet for the Mariners, it all comes to an end, albeit to the tune of several legitimate shots on goal.
Senior Sam Willis, specifically, placed shot after shot on goal in the first half, but nothing found the back of the net.
"As a coach, if I get my forwards shots and we get in positions where we're getting shots on frame and following like we were, that's what we ask for," Sylvester said. "Then you hope for the right bounce or a little luck."
No such luck came, although it was an unfortunate deflection that led to Sedro-Woolley's lone goal.
Vasquez received a cross into the left corner of the box, planted and shot through several defenders, hitting Sehome senior team captain Sam Diehl in the foot, which ricocheted the ball past his brother, Max Diehl, in goal.
Sam, who captained one of the best defenses in the Northwest Conference, clutched his head in his hands following the goal. Both teams knew scoring would be at a premium, Sylvester said, and that goal proved too much to overcome.
"I have that goal rewinding in my head right now, and it's just tough," Sam said. "If we could have done something differently, or a bounce went the other way, we would have been tied or going on to state right now."
The Mariners created several dangerous opportunities in the first half, namely a strong run up the right side by junior Zach Wanne. Wanne broke free from his defensive position to send a low cross through the box to Willis, who wasn't able to get a clean shot off. Likewise, earlier in the half, Jesse Haggen received a long pass from Willis that had him one-on-one with Cubs keeper Michael Moser, but the shot sailed high.
"I think they got a couple good chances, but we got a majority of the pretty-good chances," Sylvester said.
Nothing came easy in the second half, with Sedro-Woolley playing to keep Sehome from evening the match. Sylvester, in a move to create more offense, moved Sam up into the midfield. His 6-foot-3 frame was able to win more headers and create greater pressure, but his most dangerous attempt came when he took a free kick with a minute left in the game from the 15-yard line.
Sam has scored on several free kicks this year - one against Squalicum and Bellingham - but Moser read the ball and made the save, snuffing out the Mariners' best chance in the second half.
"The goalie was far post, so I thought I could move it around the wall," Sam said. "It just didn't curl enough. ... It was on frame, but it just wasn't my night tonight. That kind of game. Sometimes the ball doesn't bounce your way, sometimes it does. Life goes on."
And for Sylvester and Sehome, it does without guys like Sam, Haggen, Willis, Ethan Hassi, Shae Wirth and Tristan Clem. But that's not to downplay their impact on a team with 13 sophomores on varsity, Sam especially, Sylvester said.
"Everything (Sam) did, he did in front of all those guys," Sylvester said. "When you do those things in front of the juniors and sophomores, they learn how to do them, too. They taught the other guys how to do it. That is going to stay in this program for a great time."
Sylvester said in the locker room following the loss that his kids said "they would have rather lost together than win with someone else."
Reach Alex Bigelow at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 360-715-2238. Follow @bhamsports on Twitter for other Whatcom County sports updates.
SEDRO-WOOLLEY 1, SEHOME 0
Goal: Adrian Vasquez (Sedro); Assist: NA; Time: 29:00. Shots on goal: Sedro-Woolley: 14; Sehome: 11; Saves (goalies); Sedro-Woolley: Michael Moser 7; Sehome: Max Diehl/Devin Trueb 7.