The last time Squalicum and Bellingham met on Nov. 22, 2013, the Storm had won 11 of 12 games, outscoring teams 43-3 over that stretch. The Red Raiders, although making it to the Class 2A semifinals, weren’t nearly as dominant, scraping together wins any ways possible. What transpired was an upset in every way, Bellingham catching lighting in a bottle and defeating the Storm 2-1 on a late Brooke Baker goal, sending Squalicum to the third-place game and the Red Raiders into the championship.
It was a bitter pill for a Storm team that had championship aspirations from the onset of the season — Bellingham gladly handing its city rival a stinging loss.
Thursday night at 7 p.m., at Civic Stadium, the two meet in a nonconference game for the first time, offer yet another chance for the two powers in the NWC to make a statement early.
Bellingham Red Raiders (0-1)
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Key players: Mia Hodges (Sr., M); Hattie North (Sr., M); Brooke Baker (Jr., F); Emma Brice (Sr., D)
Bellingham wins if ... the Red Raiders’ offense can look more diverse than it did against Sehome Tuesday night. Bellingham’s scoring was sporadic last season. One game it would score four-five-six goals, the next the Red Raiders wouldn’t get on the board at all. Coach Mark Wright acknowledged his team’s difficulty finishing good looks, but Bellingham by far got the better attempts on goal against the Mariners, outshooting them 12-6. Bellingham’s offense runs through Brooke Baker, who was tied for the team lead last year with 10 goals, but others on the front line will have to step up. The Red Raiders do boast one of the best midfields in the NWC with the play of Hattie North and Mia Hodges, who facilitated many of Bellingham’s opportunities. If they are able to finish better, it could be a long day for the Storm. Also, best matchup is senior defender Emma Brice and junior all-league forward Kim Hazlett.
Squalicum Storm (1-0)
Key players: Kim Hazlett (Jr., F); Kim Dorr (Jr., F); Payton McNally (Sr., D); Michelle Saunders (Sr., M)
Squalicum wins if ... if the two Kim’s (Hazlett and Dorr) combine for one goal and one assist between the two of them. Yeah, that’s a bit of a vague assertion, but that means the two talented forwards were engaged in the game and their effort was resulting in the Storm front line peppering Bellingham keeper Haley Nichols with shots. Hazlett and Dorr combined for 38 goals just a season ago, and Hazlett got on the board in the Storm’s first game, a 3-0 win over Burlington-Edison, with a goal and an assist. The Storm will likely enter this game with higher energy not only due to the tough loss in the semifinals, but Bellingham has a few question marks in terms of scoring and that mental burden could plague the Red Raiders. It’s safe to say both team’s have been looking toward this game for a while.
Prediction: Squalicum 3-1.