Squalicum caps unbeaten season with a state title


SUMNER - Squalicum showed the poise of a champion - had the talent worthy of a title - and as the whistle blew ending the Class 2A boys' soccer season, the Storm were awarded a trophy only grand enough to epitomize both.

And in watching Squalicum dismantle Capital 4-0 in the championship game Saturday night, May 31, at Sunset Chev Stadium, so, too, did the near-max-capacity crowd watch a star being born.

Freshman sensation Tyler Hughes scored the Storm's first two goals coming out of halftime, spurring the talent-rich Squalicum team to its second state title in program history - its first since the 2008-09 season.

"It's great," said the slightly-built freshman after being hoisted in the air by his teammates. "Most of the starters are seniors, so it's been really great to be a part of the whole thing with the senior class."

Squalicum coach Joe McAuliffe reflected back several years to when he coached the Storm to a 4-2 win over Cheney in 2009. Nothing but the final result paired the two championship teams together, he said, watching his 2013-14 team post a 21-0-2 record, winning the Northwest Conference championship, a district title and a state crown in near-perfect fashion.

"We had a wonderful time in 2009, but we were a Cinderella story," he said. "We squeaked by and we just did amazing (with) close calls. This has been dominance and power."

No other word need be associated with this team other than dominance. Squalicum, in defeating Capital 4-0, ended the season on a 16-game scoreless streak, punctuating the run by outscoring its opposition 19-0 in state, and 79-5 overall.

The Storm's senior captain, Arne Peterson, said that winning wasn't enough after beating Toppenish in the semifinals. Turns out it was, especially after he watched his team go two-and-out in districts last year.

"I wanted this for so long with all these guys," he said. "I've been playing with some of these guys since I was 12 years old, and to finally finish it off this way in my last competitive game, there's nothing better."

The win wasn't by any means easy, though, with the Cougars proving to be a challenger worthy of being in the state championship game.

Through 40 minutes, the Storm peppered Capital's keeper Jakob Racimo with shots. Christian Chala, after a beautiful run by Peterson on the left side, ripped a shot to the near post only to watch Racimo making a diving save.

Minutes later Gabe Guidroz would get a similar opportunity, opting to try to flick it past the Cougars' all-league goalie only to watch him get a fingertip on it and deflect it wide.

Halftime came with Squalicum and Capital scoreless, although that wouldn't last long.

Hughes broke free up the left side, displaying the speed and agility McAuliffe has been boasting about all season, slipping along the back line and driving a shot past Racimo in the 43rd minute to break the tie.

"I wanted to switch defenders and see how quick and agile he was, and I just went for it and got lucky, basically," Hughes said. "Their keeper, he's amazing. He played really, really well. I was pleased to see it go in."

Chants roared from the crowd, reminding anyone who didn't know that "he's a freshman."

Nine minutes later, those same roars would resurface following Hughes' second goal. Like the first, Racimo sank his heads in his gloves, knowing little of what had happened.

"That was just kind of swing and go for it and hope for the best," Hughes said.

Added McAuliffe on his freshman's performance: "Tyler was magical today. He's just been building and building and building, and this was his crescendo."

Zach Wallace's header in the 60th minute off a beautiful 40-yard free kick from Peterson swelled the lead to 3-0, eventually being capped by Guidroz's team-leading 11th goal of the season when he flicked it past a motionless Racimo in the 79th minute.

Capital mustered just two shots on goal the entire matchup, becoming yet another victim to a defense that hadn't allowed a goal since April 8 - the streak spanning more than 1,300 minutes of play.

"That's the best way to do it. Nobody has a chance," Peterson said. "...We still had to perfect our game, and that was the goal. It was perfection. Not to beat somebody, but to play a perfect game, and when we play a perfect game like we have the last couple months, we haven't been scored on. That's the way to do it."

Reach Alex Bigelow at alex.bigelow@bellinghamherald.com or call 360-715-2238. Follow @bhamsports on Twitter for other Whatcom County sports updates.


Goal: Tyler Hughes (Squalicum); Assist: NA; Time: 43:00. Goal: Tyler Hughes (Squalicum); Assist: NA; Time: 53:00. Goal: Zach Wallace (Squalicum); Assist: Arne Peterson; Time: 60:00, Goal: Gabe Guidroz (Squalicum); Assist: NA; Time: 79:00. Shots on goal: Squalicum: 19; Capital: 2; Saves (goalies); Squalicum: Trenton Langer 2; Capital: Jacob Racimo 14.

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