By Nick Patterson Herald Writer
EVERETT — The Archbishop Murphy High School boys soccer team isn’t dwelling on the concept of perfection.
Nevertheless, the Wildcats are just two steps away from achieving it.
Archbishop Murphy made it a perfect 20-for-20 when the Wildcats defeated the Bellingham Red Raiders 1-0 Saturday evening in the 2A state quarterfinals at Everett Memorial Stadium.
The Wildcats used a typically resolute defensive performance — Archbishop Murphy has allowed just two goals all season — along with a wonderful solo effort from Josh Bartley to run their record to 20-0 and advance to next weekend’s final four.
And the streak is being treated as an afterthought to winning the state title.
“It turned around about two games ago,” Archbishop Murphy coach Mike Bartley explained. “The players were starting to count down instead of up, so the win streak isn’t in their head. Today there was three left, now there’s two left. So I don’t think being undefeated has hit them like it does other teams. They’re more about how many are left before they can try to win the state championship.”
The Wildcats face Cheney in the semifinals at 8 p.m. Friday at Sunset Chev Stadium in Sumner.
“I’m ecstatic right now,” Josh Bartley said. “Last year we lost in the quarterfinals to a team we thought we easily could have beaten, but we overlooked them. We didn’t want to do the same thing to this team, we knew they were good and were dangerous up front. But we have a strong defense and we just wanted to shut them down, and it feels great to be in the semifinals.”
Bellingham finished its season 11-5-5.
Archbishop Murphy was in control throughout Saturday’s game. However, with Bellingham also playing solid defense, scoring chances were at a premium for the Wildcats.
Therefore, it took a moment of inspiration from Josh Bartley to break the scoreless deadlock. In the 33rd minute Josh Bartley picked up the ball near midfield and went on a weaving run, beating one defender and skipping past a second before drilling a low shot from the edge of the penalty box into the right corner, giving the Wildcats a 1-0 lead.
“Honestly, I don’t really remember much of it,” Josh Bartley said about the goal. “All I can remember is getting the ball about 30 (yards out), faking a shot and cutting inside. I didn’t actually see the keeper, but I kind of knew he was off his line, so I just tried to put it in the corner.”
Josh Bartley nearly scored again five minutes into the second half. Chaos ensued after a Wildcats free kick into the penalty box, and Bellingham goalkeeper Auden Schilder got just enough of his hand to Josh Bartley’s volley to steer it onto the post and keep it 1-0.
Bellingham, which was forced back into its own end for much of the first half, was able to get more possession in the second half. However, Archbishop Murphy’s defense remained impenetrable, and the Red Raiders were left settling for shots from long range. None of those shots threatened Wildcats goalkeeper Jordan Trinka’s goal.
“We played a really good team and took it down to 1-0,” Bellingham coach Matt Zigulis said. “In the first half we weren’t able to create a lot of chances and Archbishop capitalized on a defensive breakdown, and against a team of that quality you expect that to happen. But in the second half we brought the energy up and started pushing a little bit more. We were hoping for that goal, it just didn’t come.”
Now the Wildcats have a perfect season within their grasp. However, they’re keeping their focus on the goal of a championship rather than the goal of perfection.
“I think the team doesn’t really look at it that way,” Josh Bartley replied when asked about the importance of perfection. “We look at it one game at a time. As long as we keep winning we keep playing, and that’s our main goal, to keep playing and get all the way to the end.”
At Everett Memorial Stadium
Goals—Joshua Bartley (AM). Goalkeepers—Bellingham: Auden Schilder. Archbishop Murphy: Jordan Trinka. Records—Archbishop Murphy 20-0. Bellingham 11-5-5.