Northwest Conference boys’ soccer power rankings through Tuesday, April 15, games.
1. Squalicum (7-0-2 overall, 5-0-0 NWC) (Previous ranking 1): The Storm remain unbeaten this season, and defining wins over Sehome (3-1) and Bellingham (2-0) over its past three games show that this team is on another plateau right now. Squalicum blends offensive firepower (Gabe Bacco-Guidroz, Christian Chala, David Abbott-Smith, B.J. Flood, Quinn Carpenter, Arne Peterson) with defensive physicality (Hans Kogan, Avery Wolfe, B.J. James), making it a tough matchup for anyone. The Storm’s matchup with also-unbeaten Sedro-Woolley at 5 p.m. on Thursday at Whatcom Community College is another chance to set itself apart from the field.
2. Sedro-Woolley (8-0-1, 4-0-1) (3): The Cubs have had some nail-biters so far this season, with a one-goal win over Meridian on March 28, and a 1-1 tie against Sehome on March 26. Of late, though, Sedro has put together three consecutive shutouts over Ferndale, Friday Harbor and Burlington-Edison, although that’s unlikely to continue in its matchup against Squalicum on Thursday. With that being said, the Cubs do have a shot at the outright NWC lead if they win.
3. Anacortes (7-1-1, 4-0-1) (4): The Seahawks have quietly loomed near the top of the NWC standings all season, and it seems like they have only just started to hit their stride. Anacortes is coming off strong wins over Sehome (2-0 on March 28) and Lynden (3-0 on April 10) to show it can hang with the best of them, but its true test is in the future. How the Seahawks hold up against Sedro, Bellingham and Squalicum will truly tell how far this team can go in the postseason.
4. Bellingham (5-1-4, 4-1-1) (2): The Red Raiders suffered a stinging 2-0 loss to Squalicum Tuesday, but the two goals they allowed could easily have been neutralized. Bellingham hung with the Storm, showing that this young team is one that will continue to get better, but someone else needs to step up on the offensive end. Noe Betancourt-Cruz is facing doubles teams on a near-constant basis, and Keegan Nutt is a solid option, but as coach Matt Zigulis reiterated following the loss to Squalicum, he needs a third option. He’s going to allow six forwards to push the attack, so hopefully his team can generate more offense in the future. Currently, Bellingham has only six goals over its past six games, and a matchup with Sehome on Thursday will likely be another difficult test.
5. Sehome (5-2-3, 3-2-1) (5): After a 3-1 loss to Squalicum on April 8, the Mariners have been playing angry. Ten combined goals over Sehome’s last two games show it wants another shot at the big dogs in the league, and that bodes well for a late playoff push. Sam Willis and Jesse Haggen fuel the attack, and Sam Diehl in the backline may be the best defender in the league. A key game against Bellingham at 7:30 p.m. Thursday at Civic Stadium may prove to be a pivotal game, as both are fighting right now for that final playoff position in the 2A division.
6. Burlington-Edison (5-5-0, 4-2-0) (10): The Tigers have had some success this season, most notably in back-to-back wins over Lynden and Lynden Christian by a combined 8-2 margin, but a recent 2-0 loss to Sedro-Woolley shows this team might not be ready to face the upper-echelon teams in the NWC. Burlington is good, but not great, and they will likely be on the outside looking in come playoff time.
7. Mount Baker (5-5-0, 4-2-0) (8): The Mountaineers are a difficult team to peg. They strung together four consecutive conference wins over Ferndale, Lynden Christian, Nooksack Valley and Meridian, but have suffered bad losses to both Sehome and Bellingham this year. Alex Tyska is a strong scoring threat, but coach Jason Jorgensen might not have all the pieces to contend at the top of the league. With that in mind, Mount Baker is no slouch, and it will be a dangerous team in the 1A division come the postseason.
8. Lynden (2-5-3, 1-3-2) (6): The Lions are struggling right now, coming off three losses and a tie in its last four games. Drew Smiley has a roster with eight sophomore and freshmen players getting significant minutes, so he knew this learning curve was coming. Lynden has shown flashes of brilliance, holding both Squalicum and Bellingham to one goal in back-to-back games in late March, but since that point things have gone downhill. If Lynden has aspirations of making the postseason, it will have to real off wins against Baker, Lynden Christian, Sehome, Blaine and Ferndale to finish the season. It’s not impossible, but certainly a tall order.
9. Nooksack Valley (2-5-2, 1-3-2) (11): The Pioneers tied with Lynden 1-1 on Tuesday, but other than that, they lack a signature game. The offense hasn’t been there this year, although their defense has been strong. The best Nooksack can do is battle through the top teams and hope to surprise some people in the 1A playoffs.
10. Blaine (3-4-2, 1-4-1) (9): A 6-0 win over Ferndale and a tough 2-1 loss to Bellingham shows the Borderites, especially Nick Butschli, are a decent team. Against 1A competition, they might be a team to watch.
11. Lynden Christian (2-5-3, 0-5-2) (7): A 5-1 loss to Anacortes on Tuesday shows the Lyncs are well off the pace of the upper tier, and Trevor Kamena can only do so much on offense. Cody Fransen is an elite player in the NWC, but constant double teams have held him at bay. There’s not much either can do to pull the Lyncs out of this current hole.
12. Meridian (1-8-0, 1-5-0) (12): The Trojans are an odd bunch. They fought both Sedro and Bellingham to one-goal losses, but fell to Mount Baker 3-1. Can’t quite figure out this team. They are tough some days more so than others.
13. Ferndale (0-9-1, 0-5-1) (13): Well, the Golden Eagles have some opportunities for wins coming up with games against Nooksack, LC and Meridian, but that’s about all they can hope for before ending the season against Squalicum, Lynden and Bellingham.