Even though the game was a tie, Squalicum and Sehome both came away feeling at least a bit like a winner.
“There’s probably a lot of truth in that,” Sehome coach John Sylvester said following the state tournament hopeful Mariners’ 1-1 non-league boys’ soccer tie with Class 2A defending state champion Squalicum on Friday, March 20, at Civic Stadium.
The tie — played in steady rain and frustrating, strong crosswinds — ended the Storm’s 19-game scoreless streak and 21-game win streak. But Squalicum (2-0-1) extended its unbeaten streak to 26 games.
“The game kind of helped us,” said Storm sophomore Tyler Hughes, who scored his third goal of the season on a drive following an assist from Zachary Wallace in the 65th minute to create the tie. “It possibly made us mentally stronger to have to come back.”
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Throughout the 19-game scoreless streak, including the final 17 last season, the Storm won by at least two goals.
The goal for Sehome (2-1-0) came in the 18th minute on a penalty kick by strong-legged junior midfielder Jack Willis. The play was set up when Squalicum’s Spencer Wallace was whistled for a foul against Sehome’s Charlie Lahud.
“The kids called that penalty kick,” said Sylvester. “Jack stepped up to take it and nobody said no. He had a goal on a penalty kick in our previous game.”
Sehome goalkeeper Devin Trueb, who played the full game, turned in a solid effort with six saves, including one off a header in the final 30 seconds.
Other than the penalty kick, Squalicum did not allow a shot in the first half. Storm goalkeeper Owen Davis-Bower, a junior who missed the previous game with a broken nose, finally was called on for saves in the 63rd and 73rd minutes.
Sehome senior Zach Wanne, the Mariners’ most experienced player and only senior starter, could play only the first six minutes because of a leg/hip injury.
“I’m sure Zach won’t likely be able to play against Bellingham (on Tuesday, March 24, in Sehome’s Norrthwest Conference opener),” Sylvester said. “When he’s playing, we’re a different team. He gives us an offensive spark and maturity.”
It was the third game in four days for Squalicum, which plays its final non-league game on Saturday, March 21, at 1 p.m. at Civic against Sedro-Woolley.
“There were a lot of tired legs out there,” said Storm coach Joe McAuliffe. “I’m really pleased how we came back against another top competitor. Sehome (which the Storm faces April 6) has a great team. We’ll have to play (Squalicum’s A game) to win.”
The end of the scoreless streak didn’t perturb McAuliffe, since he knew that was inevitable in a conference as strong as the NWC.
“We weren’t playing for that,” said McAuliffe, who praised midfielder Brandon Burbank for an especially gutty effort on weary legs.
Sylvester expressed great pride in his team’s effort, pointing out how well Mason Rathkamp played at midfielder/defender and how effective Kiefer Thomas, Isaac DeVange, Manny Pacheco-Rodriguez and Gabe Weight were on the defensive backline, with support from midfielders Noah Byford and Ethan Hunger. It was the versatile regular Weight’s first full-game defensive challenge there, the coach noted.
“For the first time in a long time, I felt we at least matched, and perhaps slightly surpassed, what Squalicum is accustomed to seeing,” the veteran Sehome coach said. “I’d say that tie is a pretty accurate reflection of what occurred in the game. We may have had the ball just a little longer at midfield.”
Likewise, Storm backline defenders BJ James, Ben Peterson, Spencer Wallace and Riley Zehnder were just as difficult as usual to face off against. Quinn Carpenter, Carlos Tovar and Eli Guidroz played at a consistently high level at midfield in a highly competitive, physical match-up.
Both teams had free kicks that curved wide in the 79th minute as Sehome’s Lahud and Squalicum’s James both came close but were foiled in large part by the wind.
SQUALICUM 1, SEHOME 1
Goal: Jack Willis (Sehome), penalty kick; time: 18. Goal: Tyler Hughes (Squalicum); assist: Zachary Wallace; time: 65. Shots on goal: Sehome 4, Squalicum 8. Goalkeepers (saves): Sehome: Devin Trueb (6); Squalicum: Owen Davis-Bower (2).