SUMNER - Squalicum's dominance knows no bounds.
The Storm had little trouble navigating its first two games in the Class 2A State Boys' Soccer Championships, first defeating Sumner 7-0 and then Hockinson 3-0.
Apparently Squalicum saw no reason not to share the same fate with its semifinal opponent, Toppenish, besting the Wildcats 5-0 on Friday, May 30, at Sunset Chev Stadium in Sumner, earning its first state championship berth since the 2008-09 season.
And the Storm earned its way in the only way it knew how: by holding Toppenish scoreless, furthering Squalicum's streak to 15 games in a row without allowing a goal.
"That means so much to me. It means as much as winning. Winning is the most important thing, and after that it's just pride - it's all pride," said senior team captain Arne Peterson of the scoreless streak that's now reached well over 1,200 minutes. "To not get scored on is to say you're better than that team, and also to say you don't have a chance. If they don't score, they don't have a chance. You can't win without scoring, so that's what we've proved."
The Storm will face the winner of the Sedro-Woolley-Capital game, with the title contest starting at 5 p.m., Saturday, May 31, at Sunset Chev Stadium.
Squalicum's defense did as it's done all season. The offense, though, was refined and calm, converting on many of its quality chances.
The first came in the 13th minute when junior midfielder Brandon Burbank placed a shot just inside of the right post past a diving Oliver Sanchez in goal. The only thing upstaging Burbank's one-touch shot was the run and pass Christian Chala made to give him the open look from 10 yards out.
"Chala played an amazing ball and I was just able to get on the end of it," Burbank said. "Chala was hustling really hard and he won the ball, and I was running down the middle and he just played me a perfect ball ... and I just saw the goalie was off his line."
Toppenish, despite not recording a goal in the game, wasn't without its chances in the first half. Squalicum coach Joe McAuliffe, following Burbank's goal, warned his team to stay alert. The next five minutes, he cautioned, would be dangerous, and they were.
Storm keeper Trenton Langer made back-to-back incredible saves over that span, preserving the shutout.
"He's a big surprise, isn't he?" McAuliffe said with a laugh. "Everybody is expecting the ball to come in, and Trenton comes out of nowhere."
Sophomore Eli Guidroz, after entering in the 27th minute to give Chala a breather, would receive a beautiful touch pass from Hans Kogan that left him open against Sanchez, beating the senior keeper for a 2-0 lead in the 31st minute. Freshman Tyler Hughes would notch his first goal in the state tournament three minutes later when he navigated a scrum in front of the net to give Squalicum a 3-0 halftime lead.
"Arne had a heads up play, cutting back there. I'm not sure what happened," Hughes said. "I was going to go for the chip, but I'm not sure. It's just kind of instincts, I guess."
The Wildcats had no answer after that, facing a deficit the size of Mt. Rainier, aptly visible from the stadium's view.
"It's not typical for us to finish 50 percent," said McAuliffe of his team's high shooting percentage. "We're typically one to five, or sometimes on a horrible day one to 15, but we take a lot of shots and we have lots of opportunities. ... Things were going our way and sometimes it doesn't happen like today."
The lead grew after Zach Wallace's goal in the 55th minute and Burbank's second goal in the 74th minute, firmly placing Squalicum into the championship game in convincing fashion.
But then again, it's been a showing of dominance for the Storm this entire season, with state only being the next stage to display the talents of a team that sits 20-0-2 on the year.
But even given the undefeated record, Peterson said he didn't expect to move into the state finals in such impressive fashion, boasting a 15-0 goal differential through the first three rounds.
"I've watched these guys all year and everything is coming together at the right time," he said. "But I couldn't have expected to come to the semifinals and win 5-0. They were probably the closest 3-0 lead we've ever had. They were good. They came out and they were strong, but we broke them down."
Reach Alex Bigelow at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 360-715-2238. Follow @bhamsports on Twitter for other Whatcom County sports updates.
SQUALICUM 5, TOPPENISH 0
Goal: Brandon Burbank (Squalicum); Assist: Christian Chala; Time: 13:00. Goal: Eli Guidroz (Squalicum); Assist: Hans Koan; Time: 31:00. Goal: Tyler Hughes (Squalicum); Assist: NA; Time: 34:00, Goal: David Zach Wallace (Squalicum); Assist: B.J. James; Time: 55:00, Goal: Brandon Burbank (Squalicum); Assist: Avery Wolfe; Time: 74:00. Shots on goal: Squalicum: 14; Toppenish: 7; Saves (goalies); Squalicum: Trenton Langer 6; Toppenish: Oliver Sanchez 4.