With the playoffs on the horizon, every single game from here on out has ramifications toward the postseason. With that in mind, let’s take a look at where these teams stand entering play Wednesday.
1. Squalicum (12-0-2, NWC 10-0-0) (Previous week 1): The Storm have continued to play excellent, but it’s the opinion of some that they still haven’t quite peaked. That’s a scary thought considering Squalicum hasn’t lost a game all year, but aspirations from this team aren’t just to make districts. State is where it has its sights set toward. An emerging player for them is David Abbott-Smith, whose scoring touch has been on full display of late. Pair him with Christian Chala, Gabe Guidroz and B.J. Flood, and there is no limit for this team.
2. Anacortes (11-1-2, NWC 8-0-2) (2): The Seahawks have a physical and nasty (in a good way) defense that stymied Bellingham on April 23. Whether that’s going to be enough to stop Squalicum is the true question, one we will have an answer for when the two teams meet on Monday, May 5, for the regular-season finale. Regardless, a 2-2 tie with Sedro-Woolley on Tuesday showed that this team isn’t unbeatable, although it’s pretty dang good.
3. Sedro-Woolley (10-2-2, NWC 6-2-2) (5): The Cubs, after losing back-to-back games to Squalicum and Bellingham on April 17 and 21st, have reeled off wins over Mount Baker, Lynden Christian and then a tie with Anacortes Tuesday. They are playing exceedingly well entering the playoffs, and certainly hold one of the four 2A spots. Defense has been where this team makes its mark, and over the past eight games it’s allowed just five goals.
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T4. Burlington-Edison (8-7-0, NWC 7-4-0) (6): When faced with a season-defining game that the Tigers needed to win, they responded with possibly their best game of the year in a 2-1 win over Bellingham Tuesday night. Alex Woodard earned the game-winning goal on a free kick in the 77th minute, all but ending the Red Raiders’ season. Whether it was enough to hold off Sehome for the final spot in the conference remains to be seen, but the two foes will play for it on Monday. Should be one of the best games of the year.
T4. Sehome (8-2-4, 6-2-2) (3): The Mariners are slated right behind Burlington-Edison right now, putting them on the outside looking in if the playoffs were to start today. Fortunately for Sehome, that isn’t the case, and they have two more games – one against Meridian Thursday and one against the Tigers Monday – to book their spot in the playoffs. Seniors Sam Willis, Sam Diehl and Jesse Haggen have the potential to lead the Mariners into an amazing end to their final campaign. There’s nothing more they can ask for then having the season’s fate in their hands. Let’s see what they do with it.
6. Bellingham (6-4-4, NWC 5-4-1) (4): The Red Raiders, after such a successful campaign last year that saw them make the state tournament, just couldn’t call upon that same magic this year. Conversations following Bellingham’s stinging 2-1 to Burlington-Edison on Tuesday were focused on ending the season for the seniors, and that’s all coach Matt Zigulis is going to ask. Fortunately for him, the returners he will have next year are as talented as any in the league. Sadly, though, that isn’t much consolation for how this season came to an end.
7. Lynden (4-5-5, NWC 3-3-4) (7): The Lions didn’t move up from last week, but that doesn’t mean they haven’t played well. Coach Drew Smiley has finally got this team playing at a high level after some early-season struggles, and the attack of Alex Guenther and Gerardo Quiroz has complemented Hector Gutierrez’s play in the net quite well. Although the playoffs aren’t going to happen for this team, Smiley and his boys certainly have something to look forward to next year after as many as eight freshmen and sophomores saw significant action this year.
8. Meridian (4-11-0, NWC 3-8-0) (11): The Trojans make the biggest jump from last week, and that’s almost solely due to their play against Burlington-Edison on April 25. Meridian staged maybe the biggest upset of the year after handing the Tigers a 2-1 loss, nearly ending their season in the process. This team has meandered around the bottom of the league for most of the year, and then you see against good competition it plays its best ball. Unfortunately many of those good games have been losses and not wins.
9. Mount Baker (5-9-1, NWC 4-6-1) (8): The Mountaineers have fallen on tough times. It hasn’t so much been them, but the competition they’ve been asked to play of late. Games against Lynden, Burlington-Edison, Sedro-Woolley and Squalicum over a two-week span would leave most in the conference reeling. It doesn’t get much better as Mount Baker ends against Anacortes — a horrid, horrid ending to the season. Who knows, maybe they can offer the Seahawks a challenge.
10. Lynden Christian (4-7-3, NWC 2-7-2) (12): The Lyncs have a potent scorer in junior Cody Fransen, who netted two goals in a 2-1 win over Meridian on Tuesday. He and Trevor Kamena make a strong combo, only thing is coach Brent De Ruyter hasn’t got much in terms of scoring from anybody else. Still, tradition speaks for something, and Lynden Christian is never an easy game. The Lyncs always play people hard, regardless of the depth of talent they have.
11. Blaine (5-6-4, NWC 2-6-3) (10): The best-kept secret of the NWC is Borderite forward Nick Butschli. He’s a stud, simple as that. Blaine has played well this year, especially so in a 1-1 tie with Lynden on Tuesday. Over the Borderites’ last three games, they’ve gone 1-0-2. Not bad, although a game against Sedro-Woolley on Thursday may put a bitter taste in their mouths to end the regular season.
12. Nooksack Valley (4-9-2, NWC 2-7-2) (9): The Pioneers have lost four straight to Squalicum, Anacortes, Burlington-Edison and Sehome before finishing their season up against Bellingham. They should really not like who made their schedule.
13. Ferndale (0-13-1, NWC 0-9-1) (13): Not much right has gone well for the Golden Eagles this year.