SUMNER — Throughout the season, Capital’s boys soccer team methodically shot, saved and scored to earn its first trip to the Class 2A state championship game.
But Saturday afternoon, all it took was a freshman in blue for them to come undone, as the Cougars were shut out, 4-0, by Squalicum at Sunset Chev Stadium in Sumner.
Capital (21-3), which had previously never finished higher than a fourth-place finish in 2010 — as a Class 3A program — seemed well on its way to a state title in the first half.
Its strong defensive effort kept the Storm at bay, including on a header by senior midfielder Arne Peterson that senior goalkeeper Jakob Racimo made a dramatic dive to save in the 27th minute.
“Our defense held up pretty strong, but it was under a lot of pressure,” said Capital coach Andrew Lopez, who added that his players were drained after having to play to penalty kicks in their semifinal win against Sedro-Woolley on Friday night.
The Cougars, who entered the game on a five-game postseason shutout streak, hadn’t allowed a goal since the district tournament May 13.
So Squalicum decided to sit back and wait.
“They rely on 12, 13 players, and we rely on 22,” said Storm coach Russ Robinson. “So we just kept subbing bodies through and they started to wear down.”
Squalicum prevailed in the 42nd minute when midfielder Tyler Hughes gathered a loose ball
in the box and shot it off the left post from about 5 yards out — and was rewarded with a roar of “He’s a freshman!” from the stands.
“We’ve gone a little while without conceding a goal and when you concede a goal, it rattles you,” Lopez said.
Racimo’s explanation for what happened next was succinct.
“We just broke down,” he said.
In the 50th minute, Hughes capitalized again when Racimo bobbled a corner kick by junior midfielder Quinn Carpenter and shot it into the edge of the net from 5 yards out.
Hughes nearly scored again in the 57th minute, but was called for offsides.
Hughes, a midfielder who has played with the Seattle Sounders FC Youth Academy, said he never expected to make such a contribution in the season’s biggest game.
“It’s pretty unheard of for a freshman,” he said. “It was an amazing experience that I will probably never forget.”
Robinson also had praise for his 11 seniors. While Squalicum (21-2) won its first state title in 2009, he said this year’s team is the most solid he has coached.
“We have a lot of depth and a lot of diversity in that depth,” he said. “It was just a matter of everybody sharing the ball and getting a good chance at it.”
The Storm struck again in the 59th minute, on a header by junior midfielder Zachary Wallace with an assist by Peterson. Senior forward Gabe Guidroz closed out the scoring with a shot into the right side of the net in the 79th minute.
Capital, which was outshot 17-2, had its best chance to score in the 69th minute when senior midfielder Nick Boatright attempted a head-on shot, but it was saved by Trenton Langer.
Racimo said that despite being disappointed in the outcome, he was proud of his team’s effort.
“It’s a great group of guys,” he said. “I couldn’t ask to be a senior on a better team than this.”