Squalicum wasn’t about to dampen head coach David Kish’s mood by presenting him a loss to go along with the birth of his baby less than 24 hours before the Storm faced Hockinson in the Class 2A State Tournament quarterfinals.
As soon as the team finished shaking hands and thanking their fans, the group huddled and left a simple message on their beloved coach’s voicemail: “Final four,” they shouted in unison.
Squalicum the past two months has made a habit of routing opponents, but this one was far from a just another Storm victory.
Squalicum watched a two-goal lead vanish before its eyes but responded abruptly in the second half and held on as strong as it could, earning a hard-fought 3-2 win over Hockinson Saturday, Nov. 15, at Civic Stadium.
“It’s exciting,” said senior defensive captain Michelle Saunders of delivering the good news to their head coach. “He dedicates so much time to us, so it’s nice to get a win for him and his baby.”
Kim Dorr scored early and added an assist, Payton Fowler scored on a beautiful volley off the feet of Kelly Anderson and Kim Hazlett, fresh off a state opening-round hat trick, tallied the eventual game-winner.
The victory marked the third consecutive season Squalicum (20-0-1) has reached the Class 2A state semifinals, and it will face Ephrata next at 8 p.m. Friday, Nov. 21, at Shoreline Stadium. It was also the third straight year the Storm has sent Hockinson home from state.
“This game was definitely going to be a lot more difficult,” Dorr said. “Going into it, we knew it was going to be a lot more challenging than some of our previous games. We played them two years in a row, and it’s always been really close. We just wanted to win so bad and played really tenaciously.”
Last year Squalicum edged Hockinson 1-0 in state’s opening round, and sure enough, what initially looked like was going to be another Storm blowout, quickly turned into another tight Storm-Hawks thriller.
Squalicum controlled possession most of the first half, taking 12 shots to Hockinson’s one.
Finally the Storm’s determination was rewarded in the 19th minute when Dorr dribbled Jackie Dierdorff’s throw-in to the middle of the field before blasting a shot from 15 yards out past the left of Hawks goalkeeper Jenna Talarico, who barely had a chance to move.
“I took it into the middle and just found that shot, powered it,” Dorr said. “That’s basically the shot I practice before the game in warmups, so it was really rewarding to find the back of the net there.”
Fowler nine minutes later gave the Storm a 2-0 advantage when she volleyed in from 8 yards out a long pass by Anderson.
That should of been enough for a Squalicum team that’s given up a measly eight goals in its previous 20 matches, but Hockinson junior Rylee Seekins brought the Hawks back with two brilliant individual efforts.
Seekins first struck in the 37th minute with a set of crafty moves down the left side of the field. She created space near the end line and sent a shot across the face of Storm keeper Rachel Runnalls into the right side of the net.
Just four minutes after the half, Seekins again put her team on her back, dribbling half the length of the field and evading two defenders before beating Runnalls from 15 yards out to equalize.
But Squalicum didn’t tighten.
Hazlett, in the 48th minute, four minutes after Hockinson tied the match, was the recipient of a Dorr cross. She gathered the ball and beat Hockinson’s keeper from close range, giving Squalicum a 3-2 advantage.
“I think the incredible thing was the gut check when Hocks played so well and battled back,” Squalicum assistant coach Joe McAuliffe said. “Our girls didn’t get deflated, because it’s tough to see a 2-0 lead slip from you.”
Squalicum hunkered down the rest of the way, preserving its lead and sealing another trip to the state semis.
Now Squalicum gets the chance to erase the memories of the past two seasons when it suffered losses one game away from a state-title shot.
“It’s been the goal in our mind since the beginning,” Saunders said. “Like tryouts, it was like, ‘We want to win state this year, which team is going to get us to state?’ Our mindset is win, win, win. There is nothing else to do.”
Squalicum 3, Hockinson 2