Wildcats shoot for 3rd straight state title | Boys soccerArchbishop Murphy off to a perfect start
It’s been a perfect start to the 2017 season for Archbishop Murphy’s boys soccer team.
But much remains for the two-time defending 2A state champions, who are 5-0 in league play and 8-0 overall.
The Wildcats easily defeated King’s 5-0 in a Cascade Conference game Monday, April 3, on their home pitch.
Archbishop Murphy’s only loss last season was to Camas in the season opener. The returning players didn’t forget.
“That was one of their goals. They wanted to start really well this year because they lost early last year,” Wildcats coach Mike Bartley said. “So they have been focused on those games and making sure that we’re winning them one by one. That’s the biggest thing. We’re getting better each game.”
Jensen Crisler scored three goals and Sam Johnson and Diego Rios each added a goal. Matt Williams and Ryan Henderson both had two assists with Ryan Henderson assisting on the other goal.
“I thought our creativity on offense played a big part tonight,” Williams said. “Justin Crisler, Diego Rios and Tylor Winsor, all those guys play up top with me. They’re all coming alive recently. It’s really nice to see that. Everyone is taking shots.”
The Wildcats were coming off a 6-0 victory over Marysville-Pilchuck in a nonconference game on Wednesday, March 29.
“Everybody is finding the net, not just one or two,” Bartley said. “Last year it was a lot on his (Williams) shoulders and a few others like Sam. But this year hopefully, we’ll be a little more rounded. We’re trying to get everybody in the act and scoring. Right now it’s happening very well.”
Archbishop Murphy returns almost every key player from last year’s team.
“It’s kind of what you dream of having – a group that’s won two state titles,” Bartley said. “A bunch of seniors. They know what’s ahead and how to prepare really well. They’re staying focused.”
The Wildcats are strong both up front and in the back. When the front five are in attack mode and are connecting with their shots, Williams said he think it’s overwhelming for the opponent’s defense.
“I don’t think there’s a defense that can hang with us,” he said.
Returning sophomore goalkeeper Daniel Mycroft and Henderson lead a defense that has allowed only one goal so far.
“I think it’s really hard for anyone to go past us with them back there,” Williams said.
After winning back-to-back state titles last year, the Wildcats know how to handle pressure and high expectations. The players stay focused on the games.
“There was a lot of pressure on us last year,” Williams said. “I think we did a good job of just not listening to anybody outside. Just keeping our cool and having fun the whole way, that’s the biggest part. Keeping relaxed. Having fun. I think our team chemistry is going to really help us down the line, helping each other keep relaxed.”
Rios is known as one of the team’s jokesters and he helps keep the team loose, Williams added.
When he arrived at Archbishop Murphy four years ago, Williams could not have imagined he would be a part of a team that won two state titles and would be going for a third straight championship.
“I think the guys are really motivated to go do it for each other but especially for Mike because he’s meant so much to us,” Williams said. “He’s mentored us. … To win a state title for Mike would mean everything for us.”