Squalicum girls’ soccer forward Kim Hazlett paced the sidelines during the Class 2A State Championship. Storm coach David Kish frequently gives her quick breaks for her to catch her breath, but she wasn’t about to sit down in the biggest high school game of her career.
The Bellingham Herald’s 2014 All-Whatcom County Girls’ Soccer Player of the Year is a pure scorer with a desire to put the team on her back and that couldn’t have been more present as she anxiously waited getting back on the field in Squalicum’s title game against Shorecrest.
Down 1-0 at halftime despite controlling the pace of play, the team needed a spark, a moment of brilliance to tie the game up. But would Squalicum’s star, the player who tallied 27 goals on the season, step up?
“In years past, I didn’t do as well in the postseason,” Hazlett said in a phone interview. “People would say I always choke in the postseason.”
Hazlett’s tenure began two years prior when her and fellow forward Kim Dorr entered the program and the Storm significantly changed.
After scoring 38 team goals in 2011, the Storm skyrocketed to 77 in 2012 and 75 in 2013 before tallying 95 in 2014.
“You can see tremendous impact in the program,” Kish said in a phone interview.
Hazlett has been the spark for the Storm for the past three seasons. She’s lightning quick, can finish with both of her feet and is one of the most tenacious players on the field, Kish said.
Hazlett also has had a desire to win a championship from the first day she stepped onto Squalicum’s field.
“You can see it from her,” Kish said. “She was always asking, ‘What can I do? What can we do to get to the final game and win?’”
But despite all of Hazlett’s successes, the Storm fell short of the state title game two years in a row — both times in the state semifinal. The first was a 1-0 shootout loss to Sumner, the second a 2-1 defeat to Bellingham.
This time though, the postseason wouldn’t play spoiler to Squalicum’s biggest challenge — winning a state title. And who other than Hazlett would be the one to take them there?
After opening up the state tournament with a hat trick against Olympic, Hazlett went on to score in all four state games, tallying six goals in the tournament.
The outburst came after a run of just two goals in nine games leading up to state as the forward battled with an ankle injury sustained against Ferndale on Oct. 7.
For a player who’s used to leading her team and scoring goals, it was undoubtedly a trying time.
“We tried to rest her as much as we could, knowing we were going to need her down the stretch,” Kish said. “I was hoping that it wouldn’t start weighing too heavily on her.”
For Hazlett, it took a lot just admitting she was hurt.
“I was slightly in denial that I was hurt. I continued to train even on the side,” Hazlett said. “Once I realized I was a little injured, I had to take some time off and mentally regroup.”
Her rest paid off in more ways than originally anticipated. Hazlett had already started maturing as a soccer player long before her injury, knowing when to give the ball up and not try to take on everything herself.
Being injured and not being 100 percent assisted that even more, Hazlett said.
Kish added, “There are times when you can take the opportunity and times you have to pass. She’s gotten much better and finding the latter.”
Still, there are times when a star has to be a star and Hazlett’s moment came in the championship game.
Just minutes after halftime, down 1-0, Hazlett received the ball at her feet. She got knocked down by a defender, got back up, turned and fired a shot.
“Looking back at it, I have no idea why I took that shot,” Hazlett said.
The shot sailed past the Shorecrest goalkeeper and the game was tied 1-1. Squalicum found the game-winner with six minutes left to give the Storm its first state championship, but without Hazlett’s early second-half strike, the road may have been a lot tougher.
“That’s the epitome of a striker. ... We came out at halftime and we knew the game could be ours. We needed something,” Kish said. “She was able to turn her defender and just put in a great shot. As a striker, you have to do that. You have to take it yourself. She did it right when we needed it.”
And Squalicum couldn’t be happier for it, as the Storm will take a 2A state title into Hazlett’s final season.