Coach John Sylvester took a little kidding when he listed 12 soccer starters for Sehome.
“I guess what I really felt was that 12 players would absolutely make a major impact,” he said with a grin.
That’s exactly how it went when Sehome’s first substitute, scrappy senior forward Kevin Sun, made a huge difference in the Mariners’ 3-1 Northwest Conference win over Squalicum on Monday, March 28.
Eli Guidroz gave the Storm (5-2 overall, 2-1 NWC) a 1-0 lead with a short power shot in the 17th minute. But from that point on, Sylvester said Sehome’s back line of Isaac DeVange (a midfielder who played with great command in his first defensive start), Charlie Greenan, Noah Byford and Manny Pacheco-Rodriguez and goalkeeper Max Diehl were as solid as the coach could have wished.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The Bellingham Herald
Sehome forward Jack Willis was credited with his first two-goal game and fellow senior Kiefer Thomas scored the eventual winner two minutes before halftime, moving the Mariners (5-0-1, 3-0) up 2-1.
SUN CREATES WILD SCRAMBLE
Squalicum goalkeeper Owen Davis-Bower made six saves, including four of the spectacular sort. But Sun created intense pressure, along with Willis, on a wild scramble in front of the goal six minutes before halftime.
Willis was the last to touch the ball as it swerved goal-ward, but Sylvester noted Sun’s “incredible effort.”
“I have never seen anyone at Sehome ever hustle harder to create a scoring opportunity than Kevin Sun did on that (scramble),” Sylvester said. “And if Jack hadn’t come flying in to produce even more pressure …”
A SURPRISE FOR THOMAS
“I saw Kevin Sun (going all out) with the ball and I called for it,” Thomas said about how his unusual goal sequence began.
“I got past the goalie, and he tried to come out (to challenge but somehow wound up on the ground). I thought for sure a defender would follow me in, but I wound up wide open. It was surprising.”
RATHKAMP’S ‘FANTASTIC’ ASSIST
Junior Mason Rathkamp, playing the ball on the right sideline, kicked long on what Willis called “just a fantastic ball” to provide an assist for Willis’ dead-on shot in the 50th minute for the game’s final score.
“That was just a picture-perfect kick by Mason,” said Sylvester. “He had a wonderful game. Here was a junior providing a case of (early) leadership (for Sehome, which starts nine seniors) from a future leader of our team. He just had a great game.”
Sehome’s other starters -- Charlie Lahud, Gabe Weight and Rylan Hinkle -- helped the Mariners control midfield effectively throughout.
In the wake of such a wild game, Squalicum coach Joe McAuliffe said it was all “just frustration.”
Sylvester was thrilled, however. “To see our guys play with such ferocity and real determination against such a well-coached team, well, our guys just willed the game to win.”
Both teams play again Thursday afternoon, March 30, with Sehome at Mount Baker and Squalicum facing Blaine at the Phillips Northwest Soccer Park.