Squalicum deployed an unrelenting onslaught of shots against Sehome’s Nicole Carlson.
The sophomore keeper weathered the barrage as best she could, turning away Kim Dorr twice in the first five minutes alone and once again late.
She was doing to an undefeated Squalicum team what nobody had yet to do —hold the top offense in the Northwest Conference scoreless through 73 minutes of play, shouldering the burden of a 2-0 lead in the process.
Then came the 74th and 75th minutes.
Then came Dorr and fellow junior all-league striker Kim Hazlett.
Dorr notched the Storm’s first goal on a putback, Hazlett just seconds later beating Carlson with a similar attempt that ripped the Mariners’ win from their clutches.
A 2-2 tie Thursday night, Oct. 23, at Civic Stadium had to do for both.
“We accomplished something no other team this season has done in leading Squalicum for at least three-quarters of the game,” Sehome coach Andria Fountain said. “They were coming at us hard, and I knew it was going to be hard to hold off the onslaught the entire time.”
The Storm weren’t without their chances, testing Carlson time and again.
Each time, though, she made save after save, ripping a long shot by Jackie Dierdorff in the 51st minute out of the air with ease, again turning away Dorr in the 73rd minute on a rifling shot from less than 10 yards out.
In all, Carlson walked away with 24 saves.
“I really wanted to be able to go and win that ball,” she said. “It was definitely a lot of work for me, but our team worked really well together.”
Sehome grasped the lead early following a quick flick by Devin Grahn in the seventh minute that beat Squalicum keeper Bailey Canup.
Eight minutes later in the 15th, Bryce Sherif, who’s known for her strong free-kick abilities, elevated the Mariners’ lead to 2-0 after crafting a beautiful shot from 25 yards out just past the outreached arms of Canup.
The Storm’s 15-game winning streak dating back to the third-place game at state a year ago looked very much in question.
That concern was only heightened by the Sehome defense, led by Sherif and Ilana Pachthalt in the middle, that looked impenetrable in the second half.
Sure, Hazlett, Dorr, Payton Fowler and Sarah Byron had their chances, but none came with real authority.
And yet just as Squalicum did a week ago by scoring late against Burlington-Edison to capture a 2-1 lead, the Storm never lost hope — potentially the greatest test of a team with championship aspirations.
“The belief was there in the locker room at halftime,” Squalicum coach David Kish said. “My girls believed they could win this game. They knew it. ... Naturally, they want to win, and they believe they can win no matter what. Two down with six minute to go, they thought they can win this game.”
It was Sehome that had the greatest opportunity to break the tie when in the final moments Stephanie Mindnich’s shot ringed off the left goal post, the rebound going back to a Mariner forward that wasn’t able to convert on the near-open net.
The shot flicked off her foot, slowly lofting into Canup’s hand — one of her two saves on the night.
Just inches separated Sehome from securing its biggest win of the season, a tie and the confidence coming along with it serving as a springboard for the postseason.
“Even though we didn’t win, we gave them a really good run,” Carlson said.
Squalicum (14-0-1, NWC 10-0-1) and Sehome (8-3-3, 7-1-3) are both back in action next Monday, Oct. 27, with the Storm facing Lynden for a chance to go undefeated on the regular season, and the Mariners traveling to Anacortes.
Sehome 2, Squalicum 2