By Jon Saperstein Herald Writer
EVERETT — The hard clang of the shot off the post from Jalen Crisler in the 82nd minute told the story of the Archbishop Murphy boys soccer team Tuesday night.
It was a microcosm of the 2A state first-round game with Franklin Pierce and perhaps the Wildcats season, which ended after a 1-0 shootout (4-2) loss to the South Puget Sound League team at Everett Memorial Stadium.
To get to that moment, it was a good play by a great player, but the end result wasn’t what the Wildcats hoped for after unleashing shot after shot at the Cardinals goal all night.
“We knew they were man-to-man a better team than us,” Franklin Pierce coach Steve Anderson said. “I went and watched them play Saturday (in the district championship win over Bellingham). They were awesome.”
In many ways Crisler was a big reason for Murphy’s success this season, including the team’s third-straight district title and the outcome Tuesday wasn’t the nearly 6-foot-5 midfielder’s fault. But his struggles were emblematic of the team’s night.
Crisler led the area with over 20 goals with most of them coming on restarts or what some call set pieces — basically chances for the senior to use his size advantage near the goalie box.
The Cardinal’s Ryan Sandoval didn’t quite match Crisler’s size, but his play was enough to keep Murphy from connecting. The Wildcats had a 6-0 corner-kick edge on top of plenty of throw-ins deep at the Cardinal end. Usually that’s enough chances to get Crisler a goal or two, but Sandoval disrupted Crisler just enough to keep the ball off the frame.
Sandoval’s presence was a surprise for Murphy coach Mike Bartley, who always likes to scout his opponents in advance.
“The one thing we didn’t know about them was they had (Sandoval) that could counter Jalen in the air,” Bartley said. “I had scouting reports from two different people and they didn’t identify him.
“That nullified our restart plays.”
Anderson also is a coach for the Franklin Pierce golf team. Both he and Sandoval were at Gold Mountain Golf Course in Bremerton Tuesday morning. Sandoval shot well enough for 18 holes to qualify for the 2A state tournament before he and Anderson caught the ferry over to arrive in Everett an hour before game time.
Anderson was worried about Crisler before the game.
“I knew that was going to be a problem,” Anderson said. “He’s obviously tough against everyone all season ?. I thought my kid hung with him.”
The other difference maker was Cardinals goalie Steven Wolfe. The keeper devoured shot after shot by the Wildcats from every angle. Wolfe saved the first and third attempt by the Wildcats during the shootout.
“He played a great game,” Anderson said. He made good decisions.”
Jeff Scavotto pitched a shutout in the goal for Murphy for 90 minutes. He did well to come up with huge saves after long periods of inactivity with Murphy attacking during the run of play, but couldn’t find a shootout save, let alone the two he had Saturday, in four Cardinals attempts.
The best Murphy chance of the night came in the 58th minute when Tyler Ptacek found himself alone in front of the goal on a Christian Thode corner kick with a header. The hard ricochet was no match for Wolfe, but the crossbar did just fine bouncing it helplessly away.
But it wasn’t the only time they got close.
“I just didn’t happen for us tonight,” Bartley said. “That’s basically it: a very good Franklin Pierce team. They came in, they had their game plan and executed it. We executed ours and it just came out that we didn’t find the net.”
The normally loquacious Bartley was rendered speechless for a few minutes after the heartbreak that was the end of the season — for the second straight year in a shootout in the state tournament. The Wildcats’ only losses over the past two seasons have been four shootouts.
“We knew exactly what we were facing a defensive team that was going to counter,” Bartley said. “We knew we had to score a goal.”
Some argue penalty kicks is a poor way to decide the end of such a close game, but Bartley who has coach boys and girls teams for a long time in the area isn’t about to give up the sport to coach baseball.
“I love this sport and so do these guys,” he said. “It’s just unlucky tonight.”
At Everett Memorial Stadium
Goals— None. Assists—None. Goalkeepers—Franklin Pierce: Steven Wolfe. Archbishop Murphy: Jeff Scavotto. Records—Franklin Pierce (14-3 overall), Archbishop Murphy (16-3-1).