SUMNER - With just a minute or two remaining in the Class 2A state championship game, Squalicum coach Joe McAuliffe summoned all his seniors on the sideline.
For most coaches, it wouldn't be such a grand endeavor. But then again, most coaches don't have 11 seniors on their roster.
He wanted for all of them to take the field together one last time - to watch the clock strike zero, claiming a state championship over Capital in convincing fashion.
In a somewhat-confusing exchange, the seniors made their way onto the field all at once, capping a 21-0-2 season by defeating the Cougars 4-0 Saturday night, May 31, at Sunset Chev Stadium in Sumner, washing away the pain that was last year's disappointing postseason ending.
"They have made my job incredibly rewarding," McAuliffe said.
And what a way to send his group of seniors off, saying goodbye to Arne Peterson, Hans Kogan, David Abbott-Smith, Trenton Langer, Conner Stevens, Chad Stevenson, Gabe Guidroz, North Bennett, B.J. Flood, Avery Wolfe and Christian Chala.
"It's been a great year," said Langer, who back ended a group that did not allow a goal over the final 16 games of the season, reaching a stretch of more than 1,300 minutes. "I never imagined we would go this far, and it's great we pulled it together."
For Flood, the wiry midfielder who means so much to McAuliffe's defensive philosophy, it washed away the struggle that was watching his former team, Bellingham, make it to the state quarterfinals last year after he decided to transfer.
"This is awesome. We couldn't have asked for a better team," he said. "That's it. That's how we do. That's how Squalicum - from the start, we knew what we were doing. We wanted it, so we executed."
There was no departure in excellence for the Storm, who shut down Capital and riddled their keeper with shot after shot after shot.
Tyler Hughes, a talented freshman McAuliffe raved about throughout the season, broke the scoreless tie with two goals in the 43rd and 51st minutes, respectively. Junior Zach Wallace recorded a header in the 60th minute, followed by the final goal from Guidroz - his team-leading 11th on the year.
From beginning to end, the Storm couldn't find a team able to defeat them.
"It's just pure joy," said Peterson, who recorded the assist on Wallace's goal. "In the second half, we just (wore) them out and were able to break them down. I mean, we fought for it and to get the four goals is great, but that's just us doing what we've done: breaking teams down with our depth. It's amazing."
Eleven players combined to score the 19 state goals, many of which came from those who will be back next season.
Junior Brandon Burbank had three; Quinn Carpenter had two; Wallace had two; Hughes had three; Zach Daniels had one - the cupboard, despite losing 11 seniors, is far from bare for McAuliffe. He'll just have to wait another nine months to defend the crown his boys earned.
Reach Alex Bigelow at email@example.com or call 360-715-2238. Follow @bhamsports on Twitter for other Whatcom County sports updates.