BELLINGHAM - The scoreless minutes began to pile up for Squalicum's Christian Chala.
Each game that he went without a goal, and each time he saw a shot ring off a crossbar, his frustration grew larger. Entering the Storm's state quarterfinal matchup with Hockinson Friday night, May 23, at Civic Stadium, he had only scored once over a seven-game span.
And yet in one fell swoop, Chala blasted along the left side to receive an outlet from Arne Peterson, one-timing it past Hockinson's keeper Casey Turner for a goal that would largely put the Storm out of reach and into the semifinals.
"I was stoked. First goal in like five games, I think. No better feeling," the senior forward said. "Arne Peterson saw me wide open and played me a perfect ball, and all I had to do was take a touch and finish far post. I knew I could beat him."
Squalicum advances with yet another shutout, defeating the Hawks 3-0, marking the 14th consecutive game in which the Storm defense has held its opposition scoreless.
Squalicum will face the winner of the Toppenish-Othello game, with the semifinal matchup being scheduled for 6 p.m. on Friday, May 30, at Sunset Chev Stadium in Sumner, Washington.
Peterson, who scored the game's first goal in the 38th minute of a free kick, remembered back to his sophomore year when Squalicum fell to Fife in the state quarterfinals. It was a bitter moment, he said, given how close he had grown with the senior class that year. He would suffer nothing of the same fate in his final campaign.
"It's just joy right now. ... And now to have a chance to help lead a team like this, this is incredible," Peterson said. "It's everything I could have ever dreamed about. I've been dreaming about this for the last six-seven months, and now it's finally (here)."
Hockinson presented a challenge unlike Sumner in the first round. Squalicum couldn't break through the Hawks' defense for a goal, although the shots were pouring in from every angle.
Chala himself had several opportunities, as well as Peterson in the second minute getting an up-close shot before having it sail wide right.
Zach Wallace had the most dangerous of chances early, though, when a corner from David Abbott-Smith gave the junior a perfect look at the net. His shot was on goal, but a well-placed Hockinson defender deflected it out of the box.
The Hawks couldn't generate anything in return, getting their first shot on keeper Trenton Langer 30 minutes into the game.
It was Chala's goal in the 41st minute right out of halftime that really set the Storm at ease, Squalicum coach Joe McAuliffe said, with the added dividends being his senior forward getting off his scoreless streak.
"He's such a powerful player, and I think sometimes, just like any player with a lot of expectations, you tend to be your worst enemy," McAuliffe said of Chala. "He was a little frustrated with the fact that he didn't score in the last game and everybody else did, so I think he had his own little monkey on his back, and he put that in and all his tries after were the usual Christian. I think he cleaned off any of the muck that was on his shirt, metaphorically."
Hockinson, which had earned eight come-from-behind wins on the season, including coming from behind to the beat Fife 2-1 in overtime in the first round of state, responded by sending more forwards up on the attack to try to get past Squalicum's defensive unit. Time and again, though, the grouping of Conner Stevens, Hans Kogan, Spencer Wallace and B.J. James turned them away, especially the play of James on Mitchell Pinney.
Pinney was the Hawks' most dangerous forward, earning a hat trick in districts and leading a group that scored 61 coming into play Friday. He couldn't break loose, and a lot of that had to do with the work James did on him on the outside, McAuliffe said.
Quinn Carpenter would add his second goal in as many state games off a quick pass from Tyler Hughes just beyond the top of the box in the 70th minute. Carpenter beat Turner low and to the right, all but securing the Storm's semifinal berth.
With the win, Squalicum maintains its undefeated 19-0-2 record, putting it as one of, if not the, favorite to win the 2A state title, although Peterson doesn't see it that way. As the captain, he said it's his job to set the mentality, and he said the squad isn't looking past anything or anyone.
"We have to come out playing our game every single time," he said. "It doesn't matter who we are playing. We have to come out and beat them the best way we can. ... We're not letting up. There's no doubt about that."
A 7-0 win followed up by a 3-0 win to open state isn't a bad way to start, he added.
Reach Alex Bigelow at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 360-715-2238. Follow @bhamsports on Twitter for other Whatcom County sports updates.
SQUALICUM 3, HOCKINSON 0
Goal: Arne Peterson (Squalicum); Assist: Christian Chala; Time: 38:00. Goal: Christian Chala (Squalicum); Assist: Arne Peterson; Time: 41:00. Goal: Quinn Carpeter (Squalicum); Assist: Tyler Hughes; Time: 70:00. Shots on goal: Squalicum: 25; Hockinson: 7; Saves (goalies); Squalicum: Trenton Langer 4; Hockinson: Casey Turner 15.