Chala, Gutierrez earn top-league honors


Squalicum’s Christian Chala plays against Capitol on Saturday, May 31, at Sunset Chev Stadium in Sumner. Chala was named the Northwest Conference Offensive Most Valuable Player.


Squalicum had its way with the Northwest Conference, winning the league title outright with a 12-0 record. It did so with a talented roster, ending the year with seven all-conference selections which included Offensive Most Valuable Player Christian Chala.

Joe McAuliffe earned coach of the year after guiding the program to a perfect 21-0-2 season, capped by a 4-0 win over Capital in the Class 2A state championship game.

Chala, a talented forward who helped the Storm outscore its opponents 79-5 this season, finished second on the Storm with 10 goals and six assists. He accounted for a goal and two assists in Squalicum's four-game run to the state title.

Joining Chala on the first team from Squalicum were midfielders Brandon Burbank and Tyler Hughes, and defender Hans Kogan.

Both Hughes, a freshman, and Burbank, a junior, were key players for McAuliffe and Squalicum during the state tournament.

Hughes finished with three goals and an assist during state, including two goals in the title game, and Burbank also had three goals to his credit over the four-game stretch. Kogan, on the other hand, keyed a defense that recorded 16 consecutive shutouts to end the season.

Midfielders Arne Peterson and Zach Wallace, as well as defender B.J. James, rounded out the Storm's second-team selections.

Lynden keeper Hector Gutierrez was selected as the All-NWC Defensive MVP after leading an inexperienced backline to a 5-5-6 overall record and just 19 goals allowed. Four times this year Gutierrez kept a clean sheet, and he held Squalicum, Bellingham and Sehome - all of which are strong soccer programs - to just one goal each time they faced.

Sehome's senior captain and center back Sam Diehl was the Mariners' lone first-team selection. Diehl was the guiding voice for a team that held its opposition to 17 goals while going 11-4-4 on the year, eventually losing to Sedro-Woolley in a winner-to-state game in districts. Diehl was the last player to score on Squalicum before its 16-game shutout streak.

Sehome sophomore midfielder Gabe Weight was a second-team selection.

Bellingham's senior defender Lars Botterill and junior midfielder/forward Noe Betancourt-Cruz represented the Red Raiders on the first team.

Betancourt-Cruz finished with four goals and three assists.

Sophomore forward Keegan Nutt, who led Bellingham with seven goals, was a second-team selection.

Lynden Christian's Cody Fransen was the Lyncs' lone first-team selection. The junior forward had seven goals and one assist on the season. His teammate, defender Liam Kroontje, was a second-team selection.

Rounding out the second team was Meridian's Joe Worley and Jake Birnel, Blaine's Konner Van Risjwick and Nooksack Valley's William Kingma.

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


Offensive Most Valuable Player

Christian Chala, Squalicum

Defensive Most Valuable Player

Hector Gutierrez, Lynden

Coach of the Year

Joe McAuliffe, Squalicum

First team defense

Hector Gutierrez, Lynden

Hans Kogan, Squalicum

Sam Diehl, Sehome

Justin Costanza, Anacortes

Obeb Camacho, Sedro-Woolley

Lars Botterill, Bellingham

First team midfield

Kyle Witzel, Sedro-Woolley

Cody Fransen, Lynden Christian

Takeo Nystrom, Anacortes

Tyler Hughes, Squalicum

Brandon Burbank, Squalicum

First team forwards

Christian Chala, Squalicum

Blake Dimock, Burlington-Edison

Noe Betancourt-Cruz, Bellingham

Neff Camacho, Sedro-Woolley

Second team defense

Joe Worley, Meridian

Michael Moser, Sedro-Woolley

William Kingma, Nooksack Valley

Liam Kroontje, Lynden Christian

B.J. James, Squalicum

Konner Van Risjwick, Blaine

Akira Nystrom, Anacortes

Second team midfield

Zach Wallace, Squalicum

Gabe Weight, Sehome

Kevin Miranda, Burlington-Edison

Arne Peterson, Squalicum

Jake Birnel, Meridian

Second team forwards

Milan Kassa, Anacortes

Keegan Nutt, Bellingham

Isaac Swenson, Sedro-Woolley

Tanner Gates, Burlington-Edison

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