Squalicum’s girls’ soccer team hasn’t often found itself behind in many games this season.
But the Storm was put in that position for the third time this year 15 minutes into the Class 2A Girls’ Soccer State Championship contest against Shorecrest on Saturday, Nov. 22, at Shoreline Stadium.
“It was discouraging,” senior Julia DeVere said of getting behind, “but there was never a doubt in my mind that we wouldn’t come back. That’s just what we do.”
The Storm had a 2-0 and 1-0 deficit against Sehome and Burlington-Edison, respectively, earlier this year to draw from. Both times the Storm came back and either won or tied.
Squalicum hit the trifecta Saturday when Kim Hazlett and Kim Dorr netted second-half goals to give the Storm the 2-1 come-from-behind win and its first state championship, finishing an undefeated 22-0-1.
“Fantastic,” Squalicum coach David Kish said. “We’ve been waiting three years for this, so it’s awesome.”
Those moments when Squalicum was down is what Kish made sure to mention to his players at halftime. This was a place Squalicum had been before, so what’s to say the Storm couldn’t do it again.
And it didn’t have to wait long to get the equalizer in the second half.
Eight minutes in, junior forward Kim Hazlett does what she’s done all year. After getting pushed, Hazlett stumbled, regained possession and fired a rocket of a shot that flew past Shorecrest goalkeeper to tie the game.
“We have so much individual skill on the team and we use that skill as a team to build it,” Dorr said. “Sometimes that individual skill comes out when you need it to and that was just the spark that we needed to win.”
It was Hazlett’s 27th goal in a season, where she hasn’t been healthy since the Ferndale game on Oct. 7, when she hurt her ankle. Since then, Kish has had to tape it up every game.
“She’s not even 100 percent right now and yet she still battles and she scores a wicked shot,” Kish said. “It says a lot to who she is as a player. She’s tenacious.”
Hazlett attributes her ability to battle through physical play to being roughed up by her older brother, Clark, when she was younger.
“That really actually helped. Getting pushed around is just motivation,” Hazlett said. “I have to be that much better and that much quicker to be able to get around them and get a shot off.”
Hazlett is consistently getting roughed up by every opponent she goes up against and has somewhat changed her game this year to open up more opportunities for her teammates if she’s getting double teamed, Kish said.
One of the players that’s benefited from that change is Dorr, whose game-winning goal with six minutes left in Saturday’s game was her 20th of the season.
On a Michelle Saunders corner kick, a spot the Storm scored twice on in Friday’s semifinal win, Dorr rose above the defenders and headed it home.
“Their No. 19 had been winning the balls in the air this whole night,” Dorr said. “I felt like Pele out there. I felt like I had jumped higher than I ever had before. I just wanted it so bad.”
It was yet another case of Squalicum’s star players stepping up at the right time. Against Ferndale, Dorr scored with minutes left to give the Storm a 2-1 win. In the Sehome tie, Dorr scored the first of two goals in the final eight minutes.
On Saturday, Dorr was the star again.
“Kim Dorr always scores critical goals for us and she did that today to get the game-winner,” Kish said. “(Hazlett and Dorr) did what they do best.”
Dorr and Hazlett are just two pieces of Squalicum’s four-person rotation on the front line. With Braeden Hilleary and Payton Fowler the other two forwards, the Storm had no shortage of talent to draw from.
With so many weapons, the Storm is able to wear down defenses and Kish rotates them as much as possible to keep that tire-them-down approach.
“I struggle because I have so much talent. I have four quality forwards and I want to give them all playing time, but it’s hard,” Kish said. “Rotating them through gets everyone an equal chance. It keeps them fresh, it keeps them attacking.”
It was obvious the Storm were on well-rested legs in the second half, as Shorecrest only generated two shots in the entire period. The Storm took 11.
Squalicum’s Fowler appeared to score the go-ahead goal in the 55th minute, when she stole a misplayed ball from the goalie and blasted it into the net. But she was ruled offside, much to the dismay of Squalicum fans.
The second half resembled much more of the type of play Squalicum is used to after the first 15 minutes was largely Shorecrest.
“The first half it wasn’t us. It was nerves. I don’t think it was the doubt, it was just big stage and they didn’t know quite how to find their rhythm,” Kish said. “In the second half, you could see them say ‘We got this.’”
Squalicum’s first state championship was the culmination of years of hard work from its six seniors. The Storm fell short of the championship match the past two years, losing to Sumner and Bellingham in the semifinals.
“I think that we used that as motivation,” Hazlett said. “It was our first year getting through, we might as well go all the way. There’s no sense in getting second. That was really our motivation.”
It was also a sweet way to send off the six seniors, who any player on Squalicum would admit are the heart of the Storm team.
DeVere was plenty satisfied with the championship.
“There aren’t any words for this. We’ve been working so hard for this since freshman year,” DeVere said, as she held back tears. “It’s gone way farther back than that, especially with the four seniors that have been together since we were in sixth grade. It means so much doing this with them. This is the best feeling.”
And while the seniors will surely be missed, a new leaf has been turned for Squalicum’s girls’ soccer team, which was able to follow up on the boys’ state championship last spring.
Kish is already eyeing another trip to the semis.
“There’s a lot of girls that aren’t getting playing time and I told them before the game ‘Experience this,’” Kish said. “We’re going to lose six seniors, but six girls are going to replace them and we want to be right back here on this stage.”
For now, Squalicum’s girls are going to let this sink in and they couldn’t quite describe the way it felt to lift the trophy immediately after the game.
“Surreal,” Dorr said. “It hasn’t even hit me yet. I just can’t stop smiling. This is the best feeling ever.”
SQUALICUM 2, SHORECREST 1