Nothing seemed to separate Ferndale and Squalicum’s girls’ soccer teams on Tuesday, Oct. 7, at Northwest Soccer Park.
Both missed plenty of chances and tied 0-0, the Storm and Golden Eagles exchanged shockingly similar goals.
Enter Squalicum forward Kim Dorr. The junior picked the ball up on the wing in the 72nd minute, dribbled inside and fired a shot from 30 yards out.
The ball rocketed toward the top corner, softly curving into the side netting. Ferndale (5-4-1, 4-2-0 NWC) goalkeeper Rachel Neher couldn’t do anything about it and Squalicum only had to close out the final eight minutes to capture the 2-1 Northwest Conference win and keep its now 11-game win streak alive.
“Kim’s done that quite a few times for us over the past three years,” Squalicum (11-0-0, 7-0-0 NWC) coach David Kish said. “She knows when the pressure is on how to finish. That was top-class in any league.”
Dorr had just stepped on to the pitch and her legs were fresh. The Storm had just gone through a roller coaster of emotions after going ahead in the 64th minute before giving the lead away in the 65th. The Storm struggled to find the net during the run of play — the first goal coming off a corner kick — but it didn’t matter to Dorr.
“I just subbed in so I was kind of fresh,” Dorr said. “I just took a touch in and powered it through. It was exciting. … Just relief.”
Prior to Dorr’s game-winner, the physical game was characterized by missed opportunities on both sides.
Squalicum defender Michelle Saunders put the Storm up 1-0 in the 64th minute when her corner kick sailed over everyone’s head, hitting the back post and bouncing in.
The Storm, which have excelled on set-pieces this season, was having trouble getting past a well-prepared Ferndale defense.
“(Ferndale) coach (Joe Gonzalez) knew that was a strength of ours,” Kish said. “Obviously, they have a height advantage over us. Putting balls in the air, we just weren’t winning them. Michelle decided to do something different and it worked.”
But Ferndale forward Kayla Downs was not to be outdone. A minute later, Downs mirrored the exact same shot as Saunders, and if someone measured the spots both balls hit on the back post, it might be pretty close, if not exactly the same.
Squalicum goalkeeper Rachel Runnals made her best effort but Downs evened the score at 1-1, and at least for awhile it looked like Downs’ goal would be enough to break the Storm streak.
“I just went up there and got where we can play and actually score and it ended up going into the goal,” Downs said. “I do practice it but not all the way curving it in. … That’s the first time that’s happened.”
Despite the 2-1 loss, the vocal Gonzalez was pleased with the performance of the Golden Eagles, who face Nooksack Valley on Thursday, Oct. 9. They certainly didn’t back down from the top team in the NWC and had the Storm on the ropes in the second half.
“We just played a really great team and our girls handled themselves well,” Gonzalez said. “We knew we were playing a top-shelf team and we tried to adapt and change our game to them. Our gameplan seemed to work well.”
Squalicum continues with a difficult stretch of season entering the postseason, starting with Sedro-Woolley on Thursday, Oct. 9, at Civic Stadium, but Kish and the team appear confident. Even though the offense struggled early, Kish admits getting back to turf will help.
“We try to play a quick passing game and on turf and on grass (are) two different stories,” Kish said. “I think it takes my girls to figure out it’s a much slower game (on grass). Once we get back to turf on Thursday, I think it will be much different.”
Squalicum 2, Ferndale 1
Goal: Michelle Saunders (Squalicum), time 64; Goal: Kayla Downs (Ferndale), time: 65; Goal: Kim Dorr, time: 72. Saves: Ferndale: Rachel Neher 12; Squalicum: Bailey Canup 3, Rachel Runnals 2. Shots on goal: Ferndale 7, Squalicum 15.