The Bellingham United Football Club is gearing up to begin their fifth season and expectations are soaring.
On Friday, April 3, the club played its first full-length game of the year: the annual Black vs. White inter-squad scrimmage.
The entire roster took to Orca Field at Whatcom Community College so the coaching staff could get a sense of how the players are developing individually as well as collectively.
After 90 minutes of play, the White squad walked away with a 2-1 victory. Nyamel Navalo and Connor Barton scored for the Whites while Brendan Quilici netted the only goal for the Black side.
Head coach Lance Calloway has high hopes for his team this season. After watching the scrimmage, he offered some lofty expectations.
“Of course I expect to win it. We’ve got a good squad, and it’s just pulling the guys together,” he said. “I expect us to be competing for the championship.”
Calloway highlighted a number of players that he expects big things from this season.
“I’m really excited with Nick Cashmere joining [Bellingham United]. He was playing professionally down in Costa Rica. Unfortunately he didn’t catch on with the Seattle Sounders. He was one of their last cuts, but to our benefit. I expect him to possibly be one of the best players in the league.”
Calloway noted a few more players he expects to be of value to the team.
“Another huge addition coming back to us is Brendan Quilici,” he said. “He’s a field general for us. Last year we missed him when he was coaching for Western, he’s no longer on the men’s staff there. He’s a like a general for us. He leads the team.”
The head coach also pointed to Sean Connor, Chris Jepson and Joel Grossman as key returners expected to make a big impact.
Calloway is also eager to see what some of the newcomers have to offer, in particular Auden Schilder, a goalkeeper at University of Washington and a Bellingham native.
The Bellingham United Hammers finished fourth in the Evergreen Premier League last season with a 6-6-2 record and are likely to contend for the title this year as Calloway pinpointed veteran leadership as the main difference this season.
Assistant Coach and team physical therapist Brian Weeda expects big things from some of the younger players this season.
“They’re just fresh, and they’re not afraid to try new things. They pass to everybody and they’re very interactive,” he said. “To see them out here was really good.”
Weeda mentioned Connor Barton as one of the newcomers to watch for this season. Barton played at Shoreline Community College last year and hopes to be a major asset for the Hammers. He scored the winning goal for the White squad on Friday.
With a nice mix of veteran leadership and fresh young talent, Bellingham United appears to have a promising year ahead.
The Hammers have three more preseason games before their first match of the season against South Sound FC on Sunday, April 26, at Civic Stadium. Next on the preseason slate is a double-header with the Kitsap Pumas and the Western soccer team on Saturday, April 11, at Robert S. Harrington Field.