BELLINGHAM - Squalicum watched as top seed after top seed fell in the first round of the Class 2A State Boys' Soccer Tournament.
The Storm wouldn't suffer the same fate.
In possibly Squalicum's most dominant performance of the year, the Storm defeated Sumner 7-0 in the first round of state on Wednesday, May 21, at Civic Stadium, setting up a matchup with Hockinson at 6 p.m. Friday, May 23, at Civic in the quarterfinals.
Junior midfielder Quinn Carpenter has heard the noise. Squalicum holds a flawless 18-0-2 overall record, a Northwest Conference crown and 2A Bi-District championship, making it an early favorite to take home the title, but thus far, he said the team has been able to mute those on the outside.
"I've got a lot of people sending me brackets, and they've all got us tops, but we know to take every game by each one," he said. "We've seen a lot of teams that were really good like Cheney and Fife and Anacortes go out first round. We knew it was up for grabs for anybody. Doesn't matter what your ranking is. Anybody is going to win it."
Squalicum didn't wait too long before putting Sumner in a quick hole, with Carpenter scoring in the ninth minute of a long ball from B.J. James that he headed in. Two minutes later, Zach Wallace scored his second goal in as many games off a throw-in from Carpenter, which is becoming a bit of a trademark for the junior midfielder.
As for the goal that broke the scoreless tie, Carpenter paid the credit to James. He was just there to finish it.
"B.J. has such accuracy. I could tell him to hit me in the top of the head from 50 yards out and he'd hit me right in the center of my forehead," Carpenter said. "We were able to penetrate their backside pretty well. Saw B.J. had the ball, saw my run ... and it ended up in the back of the net."
A flurry of goals continued before the end of the half, with Brandon Burbank heading in a goal off a corner from David Abbott-Smith. Abbott-Smith a minute later cut back across the top of the box and placed a shot low past Spartans keeper Henry Leenstra.
"We knew he was a very good keeper we were going up against. He was all-league down there for a couple years," Squalicum coach Joe McAuliffe said. "The little bit of the report we got was that he was a gem. ... Three headers off him boom, boom, boom like that might have rattled him a little bit."
The depth along the Storm's offensive attack continued into the second half with North Bennett, Zach Daniels and Gabe Guidroz all netting goals. Guidroz became the first Squalicum player to break the 10-goal mark, pacing the team in that category, but their versatility up front is what both Carpenter and McAuliffe believe is the team's most valuable characteristic.
McAuliffe credited the fresh legs he constantly rotates in. Carpenter sees a group so unselfish, nobody cares who scores. Regardless, both seem to be playing into a group that is peaking at the right time.
"We've never had a group this talented. Our starting 11 is the best starting 11 in the state, and I know our bench could probably make one of the best starting 11 in the state," Carpenter said. "Nobody on this team thinks they are the hot shots or thinks they are the individual that needs to be scoring all the goals."
Seven goals notwithstanding, Squalicum's defense held its opposition scoreless for the 13th consecutive game, spanning more than 1,000 minutes of play. Keeper Trenton Langer was largely untested by the Spartans' attack, although a late header nearly ended the Storm's run.
But in typical fashion, Sumner didn't score, and as both Carpenter and McAuliffe said, it's on to Hockinson in the quarterfinals.
Reach Alex Bigelow at email@example.com or call 360-715-2238. Follow @bhamsports on Twitter for other Whatcom County sports updates.
SQUALICUM 7, SUMNER 0
Goal: Quinn Carpenter (Squalicum); Assist: B.J. James; Time: 9:00. Goal: Zach Wallace (Squalicum); Assist: Quinn Carpenter; Time: 11:00. Goal: Brandon Burbank (Squalicum); Assist: David Abbott-Smith; Time: 31:00, Goal: David Abbott-Smith (Squalicum); Assist: Brandon Burbank; Time: 34:00, Goal: North Bennett (Squalicum); Assist: NA; Time: 46:00, Goal: Zach Daniels (Squalicum); Assist: Eli Guidroz; Time: 67:00, Goal: Gabe Guidroz (Squalicum); Assist: NA; Time: 68:00. Shots on goal: Squalicum: 15; Sumner: 5; Saves (goalies); Squalicum: Trenton Langer 4; Cedarcrest: Henry Leenstra 7.