Wildcats shoot for their 4th straight state crown | Boys soccer

Archbishop Murphy returns only three starters from last season
By David Pan | Apr 06, 2018
Photo by: David R Pan Archbishop Murphy goalkeeper Daniel Mycroft closes in on the ball during a nonconference game against East Valley (Yakima) Saturday, March 17, at Archbishop Murphy High School.

Archbishop Murphy’s lineup has undergone significant changes. But the Wildcats’ goals remain the same – to win their fourth straight 2A state boys soccer championship.

With only three starters back from last year, Archbishop Murphy began the 2018 season as a work in progress.

“We’re not in a rebuild zone yet,” said senior co-captain Sam Johnson. “It’s not a complete flip, not a completely new team. I think there’s just a lot of elements. We have to find our identity.”

The Wildcats definitely have a lot of talent, Johnson added. He noted that many of this year’s players, who would have started on other teams, were reserves because of last year’s strong 13-member senior class.

“They finally are getting their chance and they’ve got a lot to prove,” Johnson said.

These players are stepping up to the challenge of being starters, Archbishop Murphy coach Michael Bartley said.

“I think all that experience will help us in the long run,” he said.

Bartley described the Wildcats’ as having a strong spine down the middle with returning junior goalkeeper Daniel Mycroft, defenders Max Henderson and Connor McDanniel, midfielders Omar Rodas, Tyler Winsor and Johnson and returning forward and senior co-captain Isaac Feeney.

“I think we’ll be successful off of that,” Bartley said.

It’s just a matter of integrating those players with the rest of the team.

“This year it’s more learning about each other and trying to figure out what can this person do and then somebody else, how can the complement that player,” Feeney said. “We need to keep building our chemistry.”

The Wildcats opened the season with a 0-0 tie with Pullman and then dropped a 1-0 decision to East Valley (Yakima) on Saturday, March 17, in a rematch of last year’s state finals.

Bartley rotated in a number of players, including three freshmen, against East Valley.

“I was trying to learn about my team,” he said.

In previous seasons, Mycroft has been the beneficiary of a stout defense that limited opponents’ scoring opportunities. Bartley and the Wildcats expect Mycroft to assume a much larger role this season.

“I think he has more responsibilities with the new guys stepping into different roles on varsity,” Feeney said. “I think he’s definitely ready for it. He’s been playing club all year around. … We’re happy to have him back there.”

Bartley agrees that Mycroft is likely to see more action this year than he’s seen in the previous three seasons and he also is convinced the junior goalkeeper is up for the challenge.

“The thing we think is great is that we can fall back on the spine of the team. We can fall back on Daniel’s leadership and his ability to keep us in games,” Bartley said. “We just have to find a way to score goals.”

Even with the turnover in the starting lineup, the Wildcats feel the expectations of being the three-time defending state champions.

“There’s definitely a target on your back as returning state champions,” Johnson said. “People are still expecting big things out of as a group. I think it’s a little bit different if people are paying attention to the roster turnover.

“Everybody knows what the expectations are and what the level we want to be playing at. I think we’re definitely ready to go back and try and get another one.”

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