SUMNER - Toppenish grew weary from Squalicum's depth.
Coach Joe McAuliffe continued throughout the Storm's 5-0 state semifinal win over the Wildcats Friday night, May 30, at Sunset Chev Stadium in Sumner, to test the ends of his bench.
Junior Brandon Burbank entered 10 minutes in, only to score in the 13th minute, and sophomore Eli Guidroz had been in the game only a few minutes before he, too, scored in the 31st minute.
McAuliffe knew where he had the greatest advantage, and he exploited it mercilessly.
"New bodies going out there continually cycling through until you wear people down," McAuliffe said. "They had a really good side, but they didn't have the depth that we do. ... It's a really big, wide field, so to have fresh legs out there, this is big, and in the second half (Toppenish) looked a little bit tired."
Freshman Tyler Hughes' goal in the 34th minute made it three goals in the first half all scored by players that started on McAuliffe's bench.
"It's just nice because then I can kind of see what I'm going to be matched up with in that sense," said Hughes of his mindset coming off the bench. "I don't mind that at all."
Senior David Abbott-Smith, who also comes off the bench despite being one of the team's best finishers, once said that the Storm's second unit could field a team that would make it to state. That potential truth was put on display, with four of the five goals scored against Toppenish's standout keeper Oscar Sanchez coming from players who didn't start.
It also goes to show that 11 players have combined to score Squalicum's 15 goals through the first three rounds at state. Only Burbank, who has three, Quinn Carpenter and Zach Wallace have more than one goal. The Storm's leading goal scorers, Christian Chala and Gabe Guidroz with 10 each, have both scored once in the state tournament.
That depth isn't relegated just to the offensive end, though, with the backline also getting fresh legs when needed.
Conner Stevens, Hans Kogan, B.J. James and Spencer Wallace played a majority of the minutes, but freshman Ben Peterson also got valuable time in one of the outside back positions. Both he and Hughes, McAuliffe said, are unlike many freshman he's seen.
"They can hold their own against any high school team," McAuliffe said. "Just two outstanding players. Ben with his athleticism, and Tyler just has these credentials that are amazing."
Two freshmen cracking a lineup with 11 seniors says something, as well.
Reach Alex Bigelow at email@example.com or call 360-715-2238. Follow @bhamsports on Twitter for other Whatcom County sports updates.