“No pressure, right Cole?”
Cole Herdman just smiled when someone asked the Squalicum junior goalkeeper amid a post-game celebration about all the streaks he had learned he had to protect on short notice.
And protect those three streaks Herdman did in his first varsity start. He gave full credit to an abundance of offensive and defensive help in defending Class 2A state champion Squalicum’s 4-0 non-league boys’ soccer win over Bellingham on Wednesday, March 18, at Civic Stadium.
“I definitely felt the pressure,” said Herdman, especially referring to the Storm’s scoreless streak, now 19 games including 17 to end last season. “But these guys are just the best teammates you could have, so that made it easier on the field.”
Goals by Carlos Tovar on a rebound in the last minute of the first half and by BJ James after a beautiful run two minutes into the second half took much of the pressure, said Herdman, who helped preserve three streaks two games into the Storm’s season.
Squalicum also now has a 21-game win streak and a 25-game unbeaten streak.
Herdman learned about noon Wednesday that he would start against Bellingham, which dropped to 1-1-1. Starting Storm goalkeeper Owen Davis-Bower, a junior, could not play after having his broken nose set following an injury a day earlier in the Storm’s season-opening victory over Lynnwood.
“I definitely had the nerves going,” said Herdman, who was last year’s junior varsity keeper.
Herdman’s teammates played so well in the first half, allowing only one shot to the Red Raiders, that he didn’t have any save opportunities.
Herdman, however, prevented Bellingham scoring threat Noe Betancourt-Cruz from ending the 19-game scoreless streak when the goalie made a difficult save close to the goal mouth four minutes into the second half.
“That save was a huge confidence builder,” said Herdman, who made another fine save in the 56th minute and finished with four. “That gave me real confidence. The nerves went away in the second half.”
Squalicum sophomore Tyler Hughes -- who scored on a header in the 70th minute off an assist from James -- was impressed with Herdman’s spirited effort.
“Cole played awesome, just amazing,” said Hughes.
“Cole looks slight but he got physical when he had to in a very controlled way and made good choices,” said Squalicum coach Joe McAuliffe. “We’re really blessed with our goalies.”
Bellingham keeper Joe Worley, a sophomore, also turned in a solid game with eight saves, including a penalty kick by Hughes in the 70th minute.
But the Storm looked very much like a defending state champion. Squalicum never quit, as evidenced by Conner Miller’s first varsity goal in the game’s last minute on an assist by fellow sophomore Ben Peterson.
Miller’s goal gave the Storm seven goals in its first two games, with six by different players including two by Hughes.
“We got outclassed,” said Bellingham coach Matt Zigulus. “That (Squalicum) is a better team right now and we know it. We need to work on consistently playing at a high level.
“There were moments when we were almost back in the game,” Zigulis said. “Worley’s save on the PK, Blake Langei’s tackles. But we couldn’t build any momentum. And their goalie (Herdman) was great and really did his job.”
McAuliffe was impressed by James’ goal, coming as it did from a defender/midfielder.
“That just a great run,” the longtime coach said. “He’s a super intelligent kid.”
James’ backline teammates, junior Riley Zehnder, Peterson and senior Spencer Wallace, all did outstanding defensive jobs.
As good as his team has looked in two games, McAuliffe isn’t taking anything for granted, especially with four non-league games in five days. The Storm faces Sehome on Friday at 7:30 p.m. and meets Sedro-Woolley on Saturday at 1 p.m., both at Civic.
“There are pieces we’re still figuring out,” he said.
Bellingham next faces Anacortes on Friday at 4:30 p.m. at Northwest Soccer Park.
Squalicum 4, Bellingham 0
Goal: Carlos Tovar; time: 39. Goal: BJ James; time, 42. Goal: Tyler Hughes; assist: James; time: 70. Goal: Conner Miller; assist: Ben Peterson; time: 80. Shots on goal: Bellingham 5, Squalicum 14. Goalkeepers (saves): Bellingham: Joe Worley (8); Squalicum: Cole Herdman (4).