SULTAN — The Henderson family must have enjoyed watching the 2A District 1/2 contest between the Archbishop Murphy and Cedarcrest soccer teams Thursday night.
Two of their own starred in it.
Brady Henderson netted the game’s first goal — and assisted on another — and goalkeeper Ryan Henderson, Brady’s younger brother, kept the ball out of the Archbishop Murphy goal as the Wildcats defeated Cedarcrest 3-0 in a loser-out game at Sultan High School.
“It’s kind of in their DNA,” said Archbishop Murphy head coach Mike Bartley. “The Henderson DNA is pretty good.
The victory clinched a top-four finish in the district tournament and an accompanying state berth for the Wildcats — the fourth-consecutive trip to state for senior Christian Thode.
“It’s the most amazing feeling going to state for the fourth year now,” Thode said. “As a freshman, it was pretty cool just going with the team and now leading the team to that is pretty great.”
Brady Henderson, a sophomore, got Archbishop Murphy (15-3-1 overall) on the board very early on with a goal in just the sixth minute of the game. After Cedarcrest cleared the Wildcats’ first scoring opportunity, Archbishop Murphy again attacked Red Wolves’ goalkeeper Aaron Kussman.
Kussman saved another shot but his deflection went right to Henderson who smacked it into the goal.
“That was great,” Bartley said. “The first time we played them we scored in about nine seconds and that game (ended with a) 4-1 win. We knew if we could score early we could build a little momentum. It just helped our confidence a lot.”
That was it for the scoring until the second half, when Henderson headed a ball up to Matt Williams who also got a head on the ball and redirected it past Kussman for Archbishop Murphy’s second goal in the 48th minute.
Fittingly, Thode — one of two senior captains — netted the Wildcats’ final goal in the 59th minute.
“Christian Thode has been kind of a marked man the whole year and everybody’s gunning for him,” Bartley said. “He’s just put this whole thing on his shoulders and really helped as a senior captain. They’re trying to live up to the teams of the past and they’ve just done a super job.”
Ryan Henderson, meanwhile, kept Cedarcrest (12-6-1) from getting on the scoreboard on the other end of the field. Despite pressure from Cedarcrest, it was the second-consecutive shutout for the freshman, who has allowed just one goal in the entire district tournament — when the Wildcats dropped their first-round game to Sedro-Woolley 1-0.
“He’s done really, really well,” Bartley said of his young goalkeeper. “We had confidence he’d do well. He’s been ready to go.”
Archbishop Murphy will get a rematch with Sedro-Woolley in the third-place game at 11 a.m. Saturday at Sedro-Woolley High School. Both the third- and fourth-place teams have already qualified for the state tournament.
It’s a different path than the past few Archbishop Murphy teams have taken to the state tournament.
“We’ve always came into state as (the district’s) No. 1 seed,” Thode said. “I think now that we’re not, we’ve got something to prove.”
Said Bartley: “We were focused on this. This is what Murphy soccer — and what Archbishop Murphy — is all about. We have to try to get to state every year. It’s what we do.”
At Sultan H.S.
Goals—Brady Henderson (AM), Matt Williams (AM), Christian Thode (AM). Assists—Williams (AM), Henderson (AM), Ben Adams (AM). Goalkeepers—Cedarcrest: Aaron Kussman. Archbishop Murphy: Ryan Henderson. Records—Cedarcrest 12-6-1 overall. Archbishop Murphy 15-3-1.