Each growing day sees the Bellingham and Squalicum girl’s soccer team’s going in different directions following their epic state semifinal game a year ago. The Red Raiders have fallen to 0-4 in their first four games, including a 4-3 loss to Sehome on Tuesday in which they gave up a 2-0 lead. The Storm, conversely, have looked better than advertised, already boasting a 13-1 goal differential in their 4-0 start.
Tonight, Thursday, Sept. 18, the two teams meet at 7 p.m. at Civic Stadium, Bellingham looking for something optimistic, and Squalicum hoping to keep the train rolling at the dismay of the Red Raiders.
Here’s how this one breaks down...
Bellingham Red Raiders (0-4 overall, NWC 0-1)
Key players: Brooke Baker (Jr, F), Emma Brice (Sr., D), Paige McAtee (Jr. D).
Outlook: Bellingham is better than its record suggests. It simply is. The Red Raiders should have at very least split with Sehome in their two meetings, outplaying the Mariners in their first game by a good margin but just not showing the ability to finish. Bellingham took a step forward in that regard Tuesday when Brooke Baker scored two crafty goals, one off an impressive corner from Paige McAtee, and Morgan Jones looks to be adding another option for coach Mark Wright up front. Emma Brice will likely shadow Storm forward Kim Hazlett all game, and that back line for Bellingham has been their best unit thus far. If the Red Raiders can keep it close, maybe they can strike quickly and turn the game into a grind-it-out affair — just the way they want it.
Squalicum Storm (4-0, NWC 1-0)
Key players: Michelle Saunders (Sr., D/M), Kim Hazlett (Jr., F), Braeden Hilleary (Jr., F)
Outlook: Squalicum is showing quite bit of depth, something that shouldn’t be too surprising. Through just four games, nine players have tallied goals, Kim Hazlett leading the bunch with four already. Hazlett and fellow standout junior Kim Dorr are established stars in the Northwest Conference that will receive special attention no matter who they play. Enter Braeden Hilleary, who has emerged as another weapon for coach David Kish. She’s sporting goals in back-to-back games entering Thursday night, easing the pressure off the Kim’s. Squalicum is a team with excellent talent across nearly every possession, and if the Storm want to remain unbeaten, Kish would like to see his team a little more refined than the last time they played Bellingham. They were a bit disjointed passing the ball, something last year’s team did particularly well, so if Kish’s midfield can control possession a bit better, I would expect them to come away with a win.
Prediction: Squalicum 3-0