Trailing 1-0 in the state title game last November, the realization finally hit Squalicum girls’ soccer player Rachel Dorr.
She was missing out on the school’s first state title game.
“That’s when I got the most emotional,” Dorr said after a practice Wednesday, Nov. 18. “When you’re winning all these games, you’re like ‘Oh they don’t really need me.’ But when you’re down 1-0 at the start of the state championship game, you’re like ‘Crap.’ ... That was hard.”
The Storm went on to win the game 2-1 with Dorr on the sideline, as she had been all season with a torn ACL she sustained in a Whatcom Rangers game in April.
You always hear about those ACL stories but you never think it’s going to be you. In the back of my mind, I was in a little bit of denial.
Squalicum senior defender Rachel Dorr
“I was there but I wasn’t,” Dorr said of the experience.
The senior defender will not only be on the field this time around, she also leads a strong Storm defense seeking to repeat as Class 2A state champions.
The Storm will take on Liberty in a state semifinal at 8 p.m., Friday, Nov. 20, at Shoreline Stadium. The championship match is scheduled for 4 p.m. the following day.
“This year, mentally she knew she wanted to earn that state championship,” Storm coach David Kish said in a phone interview. “I think it’s fueled her and pushed her to play even harder. I can see it; she wants it so badly.”
Squalicum’s backline has been historically good this year, allowing only four goals in 21 games while recording 18 shutouts, and Dorr’s return to center back has been a key part of that success.
59 shutouts recorded by Storm during past four years, since Rachel Dorr was a starter as a freshman. Only 42 goals have been scored by opponents in that time.
Dorr is a vocal leader, often the first to 50-50 balls and can kickstart the offense with both her set pieces and passes from the back — she has 10 assists on the year.
“Rachel is calm back there and she is a leader,” said Kish, noting there was “no doubt” Dorr would be an immediate contributor when she came to the team as a freshman. “I think at the same time, she’s a safety net for these girls. If they make mistakes, Rachel’s there to clean everything up.”
A safe path back
When Dorr lept for a header in the dying minutes of a “meaningless” game in April for the Rangers, everything seemed routine. Until she landed.
Her body went one way, her leg the other. Pop.
“You always hear about those ACL stories but you never think it’s going to be you,” Dorr said. “In the back of my mind, I was in a little bit of denial.”
Three weeks later, Dorr received her prognosis.
A torn ACL would likely force her out of her junior year, especially since she wasn’t about to risk re-tearing the knee and missing her senior season.
“The more confident I was in my recovery. No matter how much time it took, I wanted to be back healthy,” Dorr said. “That proved to be a really smart idea.”
Dorr took the year off Rangers, rehabbed on her own and with the Storm while using spring tennis to strengthen her knee without the contact of soccer.
Squalicum will be making its fourth straight Class 2A state semifinal appearance. The Storm went 1-2 in its last three.
The result? A return to Squalicum with a refreshed outlook.
“Rachel had difficulties on the sideline because she knew we weren’t playing as well as she would be. She had to take a step back,” Kish said. “There was no question she wasn’t going to come back and lead this team senior year.”
A lasting imprint
When Dorr departs the Storm at the end of this season, her impact will not be lost.
She’s been part of 46 shutouts but greater than the strengths she’s brought to the field has been her leadership.
Her partner in the center of the Storm defense, sophomore Olivia Benner, knows the mentorship Dorr has brought to the table.
“She was really helpful last year, especially for me as a freshman having a starting spot and not knowing high school soccer that well,” Benner said in a phone interview. “She was giving tips on when to push up and when to stay back, teaching me from the sideline.”
Benner has taken away a lot from Dorr and for Squalicum to continue its recent success on the defensive side of things, it will be imperative the youth of this team follow the lead of what’s come before.
“I think it’s been that way for seniors I’ve had especially lately — they leave this legacy,” Kish said. “Showing the young girls what it’s like to be on varsity, have sportsmanship have fun and be team-focused. I hope the young girls can see that and keep that model going.”
Storm defense through the years
Goals allowed (per game)
Past 4 years
*Dorr missed all of 2014 season