Boys' Soccer Playoff Capsules

THE BELLINGHAM HERALDMay 19, 2014 

CLASS 1A STATE TOURNAMENT

BLAINE AT KING'S

6:30 p.m. Tuesday, May 20, at Woolsey Stadium, Shoreline

Nickname: Borderites

Enrollment: 474

League: Northwest Conference (Finished ninth; 8-9-4 overall, NWC 2-7-3)

District: 1

State appearances: First

State titles: 0

Coach: Giovanni Quesada

Scouting for the Borderites: The Borderites are in foreign territory, having never even been to a state tournament in the program's history. It's a definite sign of confidence in the work first-year coach Giovanni Quesada has done, but he didn't arrive with an empty cupboard, either. Senior forward Nick Butschli leads all Whatcom County school players with 13 goals this season, and he's shown the ability to be in the right place at the right time and not miss great opportunities. Fellow senior Garren Economy is one of the better, more tenacious midfielders in the NWC, and he's provided Blaine a leader it desperately needed. Whether that means this team gets by King's remains to be seen, but the Borderites are riding a wave of confidence coming into this game, and that might be enough to see them advance.

Player to watch: Colton Economy (Fr., forward/midfielder). Economy isn't big, but he plays with as much heart and fight as anyone. His constant pressure and willingness to stick his nose into anything could see him earn a goal simply off hustle alone.

Key number: 0. That's how many goals Blaine scored in their only matchup with King's on May 9 in a 1-0 loss. It might be stating the obvious, but the Borderites are going to have to find a way to get on the board if they want to continue to make history.

Nickname: Knights

Enrollment: 368

League: Cascade Conference (Second; 15-4-1 overall, 10-3-1 CC)

District: 1

State appearances: 6

State titles: 1 (2008)

Coach: Aaron Harrington

Scouting for the Knights: King's is rolling right now. The Knights have gone unbeaten in 11 consecutive games, including winning both districts and tri-districts in convincing fashion. Their last loss came to Cedarcrest, a 2A playoff team in its own right, on April 11, but other than that, King's has outscored its opponents 39-6 over the unbeaten run. Much of that success has come on the defensive end, with the Knights holding three of its four postseason opponents scoreless, including a 1-0 win over Blaine in a 1A district semifinal matchup. Keeper Lars Helleren, whose play has been tremendous of late, should get much of the credit for those shutouts. Seniors Alex Muri and Yoon Gu Han have provided coach Aaron Harrington with a strong attack to complement the strong defense, too.

Player to watch: Alex Muri (Sr., forward). Muri has scored in three of the Knights' four playoff games. He clearly has a knack for finding the net, with his goal against Blaine being the decider. Taylor Moe, another senior, has been a lethal scorer for the team also, but he's yet to find one in the playoffs.

Key number: 64. That's the number of goals the Knights have accumulated this season, while only giving up 16. Blaine, on the other hand, has netted just 34, but in the one time the two have met this year, the Borderites were able to keep King's to just one goal.

CLASS 1A STATE TOURNAMENT

SUMNER AT SQUALICUM

7 p.m. Wednesday, May 21, at Civic Stadium, Bellingham

Nickname: Storm

Enrollment: 1,007

League: Northwest Conference (First; 17-0-2 overall, NWC 12-0-0)

District: 1

State appearances: 5

State titles: 1 (2009)

Coach: Joe McAuliffe

Scouting for the Storm: Squalicum has yet to taste defeat this season. The Storm boast a roster with 11 seniors, making up possibly the most talented and experienced team in the field at state. Christian Chala and Gabe Guidroz have combined to make one of the best pairing up front for McAuliffe, but Squalicum by no means relies on just one or two players for offense. Senior team captain Arne Peterson has come on of late, scoring three goals in districts, but David Abbott-Smith, B.J. Flood, Quinn Carpenter and freshman Tyler Hughes can all put the ball in the back of the net, too. What it all comes down to for the Storm, though, is defense, and senior centerback Hans Kogan leads a group that is quite possibly the best in the state. Nobody scores on these guys.

Player to watch: B.J. Flood (Sr., midfielder/forward). Flood hasn't scored in some time, but that's not all that his game is about. He is as good a facilitator and agitator as can be found, and his help defense from midfield position is a huge key to how the Storm play defense. He's small, standing no more than 5-foot-4, but he plays much bigger, and his speed is relentless.

Key number: 992. That's the number of minutes Squalicum has gone without giving up a goal. Trenton Langer in goal has been amazing of late.

Nickname: Spartans

Enrollment: 1,010

League: South Puget Sound League 2A/3A (Third; 10-7-0 overall, SPSL 2A 9-5-0)

District: 3

State appearances: 5

State titles: 0

Coach: Peter Voiles

Scouting for the Spartans: Sumner returns for its second consecutive state tournament after going 1-1 last year. The Spartans defeated Sequim in a state play-in game 3-1, earning them a matchup with top-ranked Squalicum. Sumner's defense, while not quite on the level of the Storm's, is one of the better ones in the field, only allowing 13 goals in 14 league games this year. The Spartans' defense held opponents to one or fewer goals 12 times this season, and they faced some pretty good competition in the process. Sumner defeated Fife once, and fell to Orting twice by a combined two goals. Both of those teams are also going to the state tournament.

Player to watch: Trevor Thrall (Forward). Thrall is one of the top options for the Spartans, and he's going to have to make something happen up front if they are to win this game.

Key number: 8. That's the number of times the Spartans' offense was held to one or less goals in a contest. If Sumner hopes to stage an upset, that is going to have to change given Squalicum's defense is arguably the best in the state, no matter the classification. It's safe to assume that if the Spartans are going to win this game, it will have to do it 1-0, since scoring numerous goals against the Storm is a tall feat.

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