Archbishop Murphy midfielder Joshua Bartley proved that Thursday night in the Wildcats 3-0 Cascade Conference soccer victory over Cedarcrest. Bartley never once found the net, but played a key role in all three of the Wildcats' goals.
Both teams came into the game in a three-way tie with South Whidbey for first place with identical 2-0-0 league records, and for the first 33 minutes, Murphy and Cedarcrest looked every bit as even as their records said they were. But a penalty with 6:30 to go in the first half changed the course of the game.
Bartley broke through the Red Wolves defense and had the ball in the lower right corner of the penalty box when he was tripped by a Cedarcrest defender. The referee whistled the player for a foul and signaled a penalty kick.
Murphy's Jalen Crisler put his shot past diving Cedarcrest goalkeeper Elliot Wills for the game's first goal. It wasn't the first time this season that Crisler has been able to take advantage of Bartley getting fouled in the box.
"I don't have the stat right now, but I think Jalen has three or four PK's and they are all from Josh (getting fouled) in the box," Josh's father and Wildcats head coach Michael Bartley said.
After the foul, Bartley left the game with what appeared to be a knee injury. He returned for the second half and continued to help his team pull away.
Cedarcrest was the aggressor to start the second half, but the Red Wolves failed to find the net. They paid the price in the game's 48th minute when Bartley assisted Christian Thode, whose goal gave the Wildcats a 2-0 lead.
"I thought we were playing a little bit better in the second half and then they got that goal," Cedarcrest coach Zack Pittis said.
Through three games the Red Wolves had given up one goal. They gave up three on Thursday.
"We played a better team," Pittis said. "They finished their chances pretty well and we made a couple of mistakes. That's what happens when you play a good team -- if you make a mistake, they capitalize."
It could have gone worse for the Red Wolves. One of Bartley's specialties is a throw-in that he can place right in front of the goal even more accurately than a corner kick. The Wildcats had four legitimate opportunities to score on those plays that the Red Wolves had to scramble to break up in front of the goal.
"That's a nice weapon to have," Pittis said. "It makes any throw-in from 30 or 40 yards, it makes it like a corner (kick). We tried to adjust at halftime and I thought we did a better job of defending it like a corner, but he caught us a few times in the first half."
The throw-in is just one of the many ways that the senior helps his teammates put points on the board.
"His thing is he's like the assist man," coach Bartley said. "A lot of stuff is off of what he organizes. He is a good finisher, but he never really gets on that end of it. He sets everybody else up."
Aaron Lommers covers prep sports for The Herald. Follow him on twitter @aaronlommers and contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
At Archbishop Murphy H.S.
Goals--Jalen Crisler (AM), Christian Thode (AM), Kenny Ficklin (AM). Assists--Joshua Bartley (AM) 2. Goalkeepers--Cedarcrest: Elliot Wills. Archbishop Murphy: Jeff Scavotto. Records--Cedarcrest 2-1-0 league, 3-1-0 overall. Archbishop Murphy 3-0-0, 4-0-1.
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