Goals have been coming in at a crazy pace thus far this season in the Northwest Conference — 417 in total. With that said, there have been several strikers making a big impact this season, so here’s a breakdown of my top five in the league, having seen nearly every team thus far.
1. Kim Hazlett (Jr., Squalicum): Hazlett paces the Northwest Conference with 43 points (19 goals, five assists). She boasts a unique skillset with her speed down the sidelines and her ability to win balls in the air, making her nearly impossible to cover 1-on-1. She’s afforded the opportunity to roam free because of her teammate, Kim Dorr, has been equally as impressive with 12 goals on the year. Still, Hazlett is the catalyst for the leagues best offense, recording three hat tricks and having five multi-goal games already. She has a feisty, aggressive style of play that is relentless, too. She’s fun to watch.
2. Edie Breckenridge (Jr., Burlington-Edison): Breckenridge’s 18 goals are second only to Hazlett, but she is possibly more important to her team than Hazlett is to Squalicum. Breckenridge is the Tigers’ offense, and she showed that when she scored all three of their goals against fellow conference contender Ferndale on Tuesday, Oct. 14. She doesn’t have rare speed like Hazlett, but her ball skills are truly unique, displaying such creativity on numerous occasions that made defenders look silly. I’d say she’s a tougher 1-on-1 cover than Hazlett because you have no clue what she’s going to do with the ball when it’s at her feet.
3. Tori VandeHoef (Jr., Nooksack Valley): VandeHoef has 15 of the Pioneers’ 20 goals, displaying the ability to overcome defenses keying in on her every single game. Coaches have raved about the juniors talents, one can only wonder what she could do with a better supporting cast. Her four-goal performance against Burlington-Edison earlier this season was truly impressive, something very few strikers can do regardless of the matchup.
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4. Jordin Bartel (Sr., Ferndale): Bartel’s height is what makes her such a difficult cover, standing 5-foot-10. Her 33 points (14 goals, five assists) ranks fourth in the conference, and she’s been the only consistent scorer for the Golden Eagles this year. Defenses key in on her as much as anyone, but she’s still been able to get herself enough space, recording two hat tricks and five multi-goal games already. She’s not as quick as Hazlett, Breckenridge or VandeHoef, but her experience as a senior shows through in her shot placement. Ferndale’s playoff aspirations hinge on her ability to continue to score.
5. Kayla Heidenreich (So., Bellingham): It was hard to believe the Red Raiders made it to the state championship just one year ago after they lost their first five games. Fast forward a month and Bellingham has won its last eight, thanks in large part to the emergence of Heidenreich, who ranks third in the conference with 33 points (11 goals, 11 assists). She is the spark coach Mark Wright has been so desperately looking for the past few years, and it looks like she’s only getting better, a hat trick against Meridian on Tuesday being the capstone to her already-impressive season. If Bellingham is going to make another run to state, she is possibly the biggest key to opening up space for fellow forwards Brooke Baker and Morgan Jones.
Honorable mention: Kim Dorr (Jr., Squalicum), Brooke Baker (Jr., Bellingham), Peyton Fullner (So., Lynden), Payton Lunde (So., Meridian), Janessa Murphy (Sr., Meridian).