The third time’s the charm, or at least that’s what the Squalicum girls’ soccer team hopes.
Just don’t tell them that; it’s become somewhat of an unmentionable — superstition and all that — and rightly so.
The Storm reached the state semifinals each of the past two seasons only to fall short. In 2012, it was a shootout loss to Sumner and in 2013, a 2-1 loss to Bellingham — a game in which the Storm struck the crossbar several times.
“It was crushing,” senior Julia DeVere said in a phone interview. “Those are the two hardest games that come to mind when I think of crushing failure.”
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Whether it’s meeting a team that’s just playing better at the time or plain bad luck, the Storm want it to end and it will get its chance 8 p.m. Friday, Nov. 21, at Shoreline Stadium, where Squalicum will face Ephrata in the Class 2A state semifinal match.
One thing is for sure — Friday’s game matters a lot.
“In club soccer, they play several tournaments,” coach David Kish said in a phone interview. “In high school, there’s just one tournament. The goal is to get to state and do something good. It’s exciting to be one of the top four teams left in state. I think the challenge for us is finding something that gets us to the championship game on Saturday.”
The Storm has something the other three teams in the semifinals (Ridgefield, Ephrata, Shorecrest) don’t — the experience of losing.
Sure, Squalicum hasn’t lost a game this year, the closest game being a 2-2 tie to Sehome, but most of the players were around for both semifinal defeats.
Those two almost-there experiences gave the Storm a new outlook on the 2014 season and even if the players try to approach each game one at a time, the championship game sits in the back of minds waiting for the Storm to get there.
“We know we deserve to be in that spot,” Storm defender Jackie Dierdorff said in a phone interview. “It’s definitely been a goal of ours, something we can look toward through the whole season.”
Determination is one of Squalicum’s slogans and the Storm has shown plenty of it over the past few months. That along with the Storm’s confidence is why it’s in this position, Kish said.
When they fell behind 2-0 to Sehome not a single player on the Storm thought that Squalicum would finally tally something in the loss column. So it was no surprise when, in the final eight minutes, the Storm tied the game up.
“We have a good confidence this year. I wouldn’t say we’re over confident,” Kish said. “We know the goal is to win state.”
But don’t expect the Storm to get caught thinking about a championship before it handles the semifinal.
The past two years, the Storm have looked toward Saturday’s championship contest, Kish said. This year the focus is on Friday.
“I think we know how important Friday is in particular,” Kish said. “We are focused on Friday. If we get the job done on Friday, then we can think about Saturday.”
So are there any nerves heading into Friday’s game?
Kish doesn’t think so. The 13 upperclassmen have been here before — it’s just about performing now.
“In past years, when we’ve gotten to finals or semifinals, we got nervous because we’ve never experienced something like that,” senior Sarah Byron said. “Now we’re assimilated. We know what to expect.”
And no Squalicum player wants to experience the feeling of close, but so far away again.