Northwest Conference boys’ soccer power rankings through Thursday, April 24.
1. Squalicum (10-0-2 overall, 8-0-0 NWC) (Previous ranking 1): There’s really not much to say about the Storm, other than it hasn’t allowed a goal in five games, the last one coming against Sehome on April 8. Trenton Langer, Squalicum’s keeper, doesn’t get much credit because he plays behind a stellar line, but at some point the guy deserves his moment in the sun. He makes the saves he has to, and as they say, the best keepers are the ones that don’t have to make any saves, right?
2. Anacortes (9-1-1, 6-0-1) (3): The Seahawks gutted out a tough, hard-fought 2-1 win over Bellingham on April 23, and they should cruise through their next three games to match up with Squalicum for the season finale. Anacortes’ wins may not be entirely pretty, but it’s getting it done, and its scoring a good amount in the process. The Seahawks are averaging a league-best 4.4 goals per game right now.
3. Sehome (7-2-3, 5-2-1) (5): The Mariners are playing as well as any team in the league, Squalicum and Anacortes included. Their defense, highlighted by senior center back Sam Diehl, hasn’t allowed a goal since April 8, and senior forward Sam Willis is providing plenty on the attack. He has two three-goal games since that in-conference loss to the Storm. Sehome’s John Sylvester said after that last loss that he and his team wanted another shot at Squalicum. They may very well get it.
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4. Bellingham (6-2-4, 5-2-1) (3): The Red Raiders are struggling to put two halves of solid soccer together. A stellar 1-0 win over Sedro-Woolley on April 21 put them right back in the mix for that final 2A playoff spot, but a 2-1 loss to Anacortes now has them on the outside looking in. Bellingham has three games left, and if it wants to make the playoffs, it’s going to have to show it now. Keegan Nutt and Noe Betancourt-Cruz highlight the Red Raiders’ attack, but it’s the play of its defense that will ultimately define this season. Two soft goals allowed against Anacortes should make this team angry, and that’s a good thing.
5. Sedro-Woolley (9-2-1, 5-2-1) (2): The Cubs suffered back-to-back losses to Squalicum and Bellingham, both of which they were shut out. They got back on the horse, so to speak, with a 6-0 win over Mount Baker, but looking in the distance is a matchup with Anacortes that should say much about how good this team really is against elite competition. Still, Sedro is in the hunt for one of the final 2A playoff spots.
6. Burlington-Edison (7-6-0, 6-3-0) (6): The Tigers are in the inside looking out right now with three games remaining, but those final three games won’t be easy. Meridian isn’t as bad as its record suggests, and then Burlington finishes up against Bellingham and Sehome. The Tigers have eked out wins over Mount Baker and Nooksack Valley of late, so if they hope to make the playoffs, they are going to have to play better because simply put, Sehome and Bellingham are better competition. Lackluster performances simply won’t due.
7. Lynden (4-5-3, 3-3-2) (8): The Lions jumped up one spot following back-to-back wins over Mount Baker and Lynden Christian by a combined 6-0 margin. Theoretically speaking, Lynden isn’t out of the hunt for a 2A playoff spot, but it is going to have to win its final four games, including match ups against Sehome and Sedro-Woolley. Junior keeper Hector Gutierrez looks to have that defense playing better of late, and the offense is coming along, too. We might finally be seeing this incredibly young team coming around.
8. Mount Baker (5-8-0, 4-5-0) (7): The Mountaineers were riding high after starting league play 4-1, but since that point they have lost four in a row, and have only scored once in the process. The competition hasn’t been easy, though, as they’ve faced Sehome, Lynden, Burlington-Edison and Sedro-Woolley over that stretch. Unfortunately it doesn’t get much easier from hear out, ending the season against Squalicum and Anacortes.
9. Nooksack Valley (4-7-2, 2-5-2) (9): The Pioneers can play people tough. They have the weapons and defense to do it. But they don’t seem to be able to do it on a consistent basis. After tying with Lynden on April 15 and beating Ferndale handedly on April 17, the Pioneers then fell to Squalicum 9-0 on April 27 only to play Burlington-Edison very tough in a 3-2 loss. This teams youth might be showing with its lack of consistency, but come 1A playoffs, they might sneak up on some people.
10. Blaine (4-5-2, 2-5-1) (10): Blaine, like Nooksack Valley, has shown flashes this year, and senior forward Nick Butschli is one of the best in the NWC. Unfortunately the Borderites haven’t been able to muster the offense when needed most against the top competition, being held to one goal or less six of their past seven games.
11. Meridian (3-10-0, 2-7-0) (12): Aside from three games this year, offense has been a struggle for the Trojans. They mustered three goals against Ferndale on April 23 in a win, but other than that, they’ve been held to one goal or fewer 10 times this year. Meridian’s been solid on defense, though, at least giving themselves a chance, but it hasn’t shown the ability to strike when needed to. It makes you wonder how this team could fall to Blaine twice after playing Bellingham and Sedro-Woolley to one-goal game.
12. Lynden Christian (3-6-3, 1-6-2) (11): A 2-0 win over Ferndale on April 21 is the Lyncs’ only conference win, and you know that has to frustrate a team that was so good last year. Cody Fransen is a stud, but he and Trevor Kamena can only do so much. This team just doesn’t have the weapons or experience to beat a lot of teams in the conference right now.
13. Ferndale (0-12-1, 0-8-1) (13): The Golden Eagles are struggling right now, having only scored four goals all year. Offense is the death of this team right now, and unless that changes, wins will be hard to come by.